ALBANY -- It took the Adirondack Phantoms more than half the first period to get a shot on goal. By the time they had two, the Albany Devils already had two goals.
It was what head coach Terry Murray called “an unacceptable performance” in a 5-1 loss on Friday.
Not only did the Phantoms come out flat, they stayed flat. Murray said not only was it not the effort he was looking for to start the game, but throughout.
Even when the Phantoms had a chance to pick up some momentum in the final minute of the first period, they just couldn’t.
With 1:35 to play in the frame, Zac Rinaldo was granted a penalty shot when he was hit by Dan Kelly on a breakaway. Rinaldo made his first professional penalty shot to make it a one-goal game, which should have put a little pep in the Phantoms’ collective step.
But it didn’t. They came out to start the second period a little stronger, but not enough to get to the net.
“Our whole game could have been a lot better,” Rinaldo said. “We could have been a lot harder in practice all week and it showed up in our game. We just gotta get puck in, we gotta stick to our game and keep it structured.”
Albany controlled everything at the Times Union Center. The Devils may have committed the only two penalties — and did so back-to-back with only 5:33 left to play — but even then they kept the Phantoms from even getting many shots off in 3:53 of continuous man advantage.
“That was a team that played the game they wanted to play,” Murray said. “They out-raced us to pucks. They out-batted us for pucks. They did what they wanted to do along the boards. I thought the board game was an easy game for them.
“That’s a team that taught us a lesson here tonight,” he added.
Murray said the Phantoms got away from playing the team game like they had in St. John’s last weekend. It wasn’t a matter of energy; it was the mental aspect.
“We look for the home-run play, we’re looking for plays that are to the offensive blue line from deep in our own end,” Murray said. “Those are isolation plays and sometimes they work. Most of the time you end up just frustrating yourself.”
The Phantoms committed a few turnovers deep in their own zone on plays like Murray was referring to. Danny Syvret turned the puck over and it turned into the Devils’ second goal, by Matt Anderson with 4:03 to play in the first.
He was also beaten on their fourth goal when Phil DeSimone took advantage of him being out of position and made a nice move around Syvret, then held the puck just out of his reach for a few steps before sliding it through Cal Heeter’s legs.
There were few bright spots in the Phantoms’ game, but there were a couple and Heeter was one of them. The rookie had a good showing in his second start, making 25 saves.
He made some key saves early to keep the Phantoms in the game. He did give up five goals, including a penalty shot to Adam Henrique in the second period and, but he did more good than bad. The offense just couldn’t back him up.
“I felt bad for him because that’s his second start and we come up with an unacceptable performance and it’s too bad because he did battle and he competed and he made some big stops for us,” Murray said.
Heeter wasn’t hearing it.
“It doesn’t matter how the game starts. My job is to come out there prepared and do my job and make my saves, help my team out, bail them out if I have to,” he said.
Adirondack 1 0 0 — 1
Albany 2 1 2 — 5
First Period—1, Albany, Josefson 4 (Kelly, Anderson), 4:03. 2, Albany, Anderson 1 (Josefson, Hoeffel), 15:57. 3, Adirondack, Rinaldo 2, 18:25. Penalties—None.
Second Period—4, Albany, Henrique 2 8:17. Penalties—None.
Third Period—5, Albany, DeSimone 1 (Larsson, Zalewski), 9:13. 6, Albany, Zajac 1 (Larsson, Sestito), 12:11. Penalties—DeSimone Alb (bench minor - delay of game), 14:27; Zajac Alb (bench minor - interference), 16:20.
Shots on Goal—Adirondack 6-11-7—24. Albany 12-11-7—30.
Power Play Opportunities—Adirondack 0-2; Albany 0-0.
Goalies—Adirondack, Heeter 0-2-0 (30 shots-25 saves). Albany, Frazee 1-1-0 (24 23).
Referees—Chris Brown, Ryan Hersey.