The Worcester Sharks took a critical hit in the AHL Eastern Conference Calder Cup Playoff race after suffering a 3-2 loss to the Albany Devils (AHL affiliate of the New Jersey Devils) Friday night at the Times Union Center.
The Sharks, who got 31 saves from goaltender Troy Grosenick and goals from defensemen Taylor Fedun and Karl Stollery, fell from the sixth seed to the eighth seed with the loss and are idle until March 18.
In a quick moving first period, Albany scored two times inside a near eight minute span to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. At 7:36, forward Paul Thompson took a blind hack at a loose puck deep inside the left faceoff circle that fooled Grosenick and ended up in the back of the net for his 25th goal of the season.
Albany forward Rod Pelley made it 2-0 at 15:14 when he beat Grosenick with a one-timer from the left faceoff circle dot off a behind the net centering feed for his sixth goal of the season just six seconds after the Sharks had killed off a holding penalty to defenseman Taylor Doherty.
In the second period, Fedun got the Sharks on the scoreboard at 4:57 with his sixth goal of the season off a one-timer from on top of the right faceoff circle that beat Albany goaltender Scott Clemmensen low on the far side just five seconds after the Sharks' power play opportunity had expired. Sharks forward Bryan Lerg and defenseman Matt Taormina were credited with the assists.
Stollery tied the game at 10:20 when he played an up ice pass from in the neutral zone by Sharks forward Ryan Carpenter off the left half board and beat Clemmensen with a shot from the far side of the left faceoff dot while on the rush for his sixth goal of the season and first goal as a Shark. The secondary assist went to Sharks defenseman Dylan DeMelo.
At 5:46 of the third period, Albany forward Darcy Zajac got positioning on Sharks forward Eriah Hayes and buried home a rebound from on top of the crease for his seventh goal of the season (and eventual game winning goal) after Grosenick had made the initial save on a shot by Pelley from the right half board that was set up by a Sharks own zone turnover.
Though the Sharks fired nine shots on goal following Zajac's goal, they couldn't get the puck past Clemmensen for the tying goal. The Sharks' best chance to tie the game came with a shade over 20-seconds left in the period when a made scramble in front of Clemmensen ensued but the puck was kept out of the net.
NOTES... Shots on goal were 34-29 in favor of Albany... The Sharks went 0-for-4 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill... Grosenick is now 18-9-3 with a 2.65 goals-against-average and .907 save percentage... Lerg returned to the Sharks lineup after missing two games due to injury and registered an assist along with a game high seven shots on goal... Sharks forward Daniil Tarasov was held out of the lineup due to a possible call up to San Jose... The Sharks are 1-7-0 all time in games on Friday the 13th with their only win was a 1-0 shutout win in Providence on Jan. 13, 2012 (via Bill Ballou)... DeMelo's goal in the Bridgeport game on March 11 has been given to forward Travis Oleksuk, who got a piece of the puck in front... This was the third of four meetings between the Sharks and Albany this season... The Sharks are 1-2-0 against Albany, 14-13-3 on the road and 32-22-6 with 70 points overall... The Sharks are back in action March 18 when they host the Hershey Bears at 7 p.m./et.
1. Darcy Zajac - Albany (1-1-2, GWG)
2. Rod Pelley - Albany (1-1-2)
3. Taylor Fedun - Sharks (1-0-1)
Haley (A) / McCarthy / Parkes
Lerg (A) / Oleksuk / Coetzee
Schwartz / Carpenter / Hayes
Arseneau / Crane / DeBlois
Taormina (A) / Doherty
Stollery / DeMelo
Young / Fedun