(PR) Trenton, NJ – Matt Lombardi scored two goals and added an assist, and Jeff Prough added his third goal of the season in overtime to lead Trenton to a 5-4 victory over the Cincinnati Cyclones Friday at Sun National Bank Center.
“The first period was definitely not a goaltending exhibition by any means at either end,” said Trenton Devils head coach Kevin Dean.
“But after that, the goalies played well. We played really, really well the last two periods. I think they had a total of six or seven shots the last two periods. This was the best game we played by a mile.”
In the first period, Cincinnati’s Mathieu Aubin gave the Cyclones a 1-0 lead, beating goaltender Dave Caruso with a hard slap shot from the right wing boards at 1:12. The Devils quickly responded on the power play against Cincinnati’s league-worst penalty kill. Matt Lombardi collected his first professional goal by stuffing a rebound past Cincinnati netminder Chet Pickard, the 19th power play goal allowed by the Cyclones this season. Moments later, Lombardi struck again, streaking down the ice on a breakaway, shorthanded, and overpowering Pickard with a low backhand shot to put the Devils ahead, 2-1 with 13:28 remaining in the first period.
Trenton took a 3-1 lead 1:29 after Lombardi’s second goal, again capitalizing on sloppy defensive zone play by the Cyclones. With several Devils swarming the net mouth, Trevor Kell forced a loose puck past a bewildered Pickard, with assists to Darcy Zajac and Ryan Ginand. Pickard was pulled in favor of Marc Cheverie following the Devil captain’s fourth tally of the season, stopping only 6 of 9 shots in 8:01. But just as the Devils had stormed back to overcome a first period deficit, the Cyclones took their turn on the comeback trail.
Cincinnati gained momentum after a spirited fight between Benn Olson and Taylor Vichorek just seconds after the Devils had pulled ahead 3-1. Cincinnati surprisingly struck for two quick goals in just 28 seconds, prompting Devils head coach Kevin Dean to pull Dave Caruso, who stopped three of six shots.
“Dave let up one goal there that I’m sure he’d like to get back, and then they scored on a breakdown by us and had one that I couldn’t tell if he was screened or not,” Dean said.
“He said that he was screened and the defenseman said he was screened, but it wasn’t going well. It was just why not, he didn’t get off to a good start and they scored on three of their first five or six shots. We got him out of there and Lerg came in and stopped 14 out of the next 15.”
Replaced by Jeff Lerg, the goalie switch didn’t slow down the surging Cyclones, as T.J. Fast capped off a high-scoring first period with his league-leading fourth power play goal of the year, blowing a slap shot from just inside the blue line through Lerg to give Cincinnati a 4-3 edge.
“(Lerg) didn’t have a ton of work, but he stopped the ones he should stop and that’s all we ask from our goalies,” Dean said.
“When a goalie gives up a bad goal, it can deflate your team and Lerg came in and gave up no bad goals and our team stiffened and played really, really well those last two periods.”
The second period was dictated by each teams’ defense., with the period’s best offensive chance coming when Jeremy Akeson and Trevor Kell collaborated on a nifty two-on-one, but Cheverie slid left to deny Kell of the game-tying score.
“The goalies came in and did well,” Dean said.
“The goalie that came in for them did really well. They had 52 shots, I think, for the game and we poured a lot of rubber on him. He responded very well. But all week, our focus was tracking, which is basically backchecking. We really got into that mode in the second and third periods, and they had nothing coming through the neutral zone. That’s huge for us. We created a lot of turnovers for the second half of the game.”
The Devils broke through in the third when Martin Nolet scored his first professional goal 58 into the frame to tie the score, 4-4. Dan Charleston got the primary assist in his season debut, and Lombardi got his third point of the night with the secondary assist. Neither side managed to deposit the game-winner in regulation, despite Trenton’s lengthy two-man advantage to close out the third.
In overtime, shortly after the Cyclones finished killing off the carry-over time of their late third period penalties in impressive fashion, Jeff Prough spun loose in the offensive zone and beat Marc Cheverie with a wrist shot from the high slot to win the game for Trenton, 5-4.
“Jeff got in on the forecheck and he kind of made a little contact with their player behind the net, it was four-on-four,” Dean said.
“The guy kind of just went wide, and Zippy did a really nice job of getting the inside and lifting his stick. He picked his pocket there right above the dot and then another guy came at him and he made a nice move and let a quick shot go that just beat the goalie on the short side.”
Now at 3-3-0-1, the Devils will next be in action Friday, Nov. 12 when they take on the Wheeling Nailers at the War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, PA.