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Devils' Sislo shocked by positive defensive rating against Tigers

Friday, March 2, 2012
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— Hearing he had a plus-four rating in Albany’s five games against Bridgeport, Devils rookie right wing Mike Sislo was justifiably surprised.

The Devils are 1-4-0-0 against the Sound Tigers this season and play them tonight at 7 at the Times Union Center for the third time in 12 days. In the season series, Bridgeport is outscoring Albany, 16-9.

And yet, a third- and fourth-line rookie has been on the ice for four more Albany goals than Bridgeport goals.

“I don’t really have an answer for that one,” Sislo said. “I’ve had good linemates all year. It’s luck more than anything, and I’m just trying to work hard. I thought we had a good weekend this past week, working hard.”

Sislo has scored two goals against the Sound Tigers, who lead the Northeast Division with 66 points to the third-place Devils’ 60.

His linemates have been centerman Darcy Zajac and fellow rookie Mike Hoeffel, both showing a plus-one.

The last two weekends, the Devils have played Bridgeport on the road at the end of three games in three days. They suffered a 3-0 loss Feb. 20, and a 3-2 setback this past Sunday.

“We would have liked to have gotten the win against Bridgeport on Sunday, but we get another chance [today], and we need to take advantage,” Sislo said.

This time, the Devils get the Sound Tigers at the start of a three-in-three, all of which will be played at home. Albany will host Adirondack on Saturday at 5 p.m., and Syracuse on Sunday at 4 p.m.

Bridgeport will be without goalie Anders Nilsson, who was named the Reebok/AHL goaltender of the month for February with a 6-0-1 record, a 1.26 goals-against average and .955 save percentage. He recorded his first AHL shutout with 26 saves against Albany on Feb. 20.

The Sound Tigers will have Justin DiBenedetto, though, who has three goals and three assists in five games against Albany this season. But in the last meeting, Bridgeport used a goal from Trevor Gillies and two from Aaron Ness to overcome a 2-0 deficit and win, Gillies and Ness both scoring their first goals in the series.

“They’re a confident bunch right now,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. “They’re finding ways to win games. They’re getting contributions from everybody. They’ve had guys in and out of the lineup. They’ve got some guys they just recently signed that were on PTOs. Brent’s got them playing hard; they’re playing like they’re trying to keep their jobs. He’s done a good job of utilizing that energy and that desper-ation, where those guys want to stay in the lineup.”

The Devils haven’t been too shabby, either, winning seven of their last 10 games.

Tonight, they get a chance to take back two points from the team that handed them two of those losses in what Kowalsky said has become a playoff atmosphere because of the number of games bunched together.

“There’s certainly been a bit of nastiness in the games against Bridgeport,” Kowalsky said. “They’re doing things the right way, right now, and are confident, but there’s been some snarl in these games, and that’s the way it should be.”

 
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