Devils rally to defeat Skipjacks Zelepukhin scores twice in 4-2 win


Valeri Zelepukhin's second power-play goal of the game, at 11 minutes, 55 seconds of the third period, gave the Utica Devils a 4-2 AHL victory over the Baltimore Skipjacks before 3,451 at the Baltimore Arena last night.

The Devils, who will play the Skipjacks again tonight at the Arena, trailed, 2-1, midway through the second period, but rallied for the victory.

Zelepukhin's game-winner came as he batted the puck toward the Baltimore goal while flat on the ice. The puck caromed off the skate of a Skipjacks defenseman and through goalie Olaf Kolzig's legs. It was Zelepukhin's 10th goal of the season.

"Utica's power play is on a roll," said Skipjacks coach Rob Laird. "They scored three last night [Friday] and two more tonight. They move the puck very well, and Zelepukhin is very dangerous in a manpower situation."

Utica added an unassisted goal by Neil Brady with 27 seconds remaining.

John Purves and Bobby Reynolds scored second-period goals for the Skipjacks, both beating goalie Corey Schwab from close range. Reynolds' goal was short-handed.

"I was very pleased the way we came back after being behind," said Laird. "Both Purves and Reynolds scored excellent, crowd-pleasing goals. Reynolds' short-handed goal seemed to pick us up offensively. But then Utica got a very timely goal late in the second period to tie the game."

Schwab, winning his second game of the season, made 39 saves.

"We have a lot of talent on this team, but we're very young and make a lot of rookie mistakes," said the Devils' Brady, who also had two assists last night. "Both of Baltimore's goals came because of rookie defensive mistakes. But it's all a learning process. Herb [Brooks, Utica coach] is very good with the young guys. He's very patient, and we'll get better."

Utica took a 1-0 lead at 2:04 of the first period on Zelepukhin's power-play goal. Brady fired a shot from the right circle that goalie Kolzig stopped, but he could not control the rebound. The puck bounced out to the left circle where Zelepukhin fired it into the cage.

Purves got the Skipjacks even at 3:43 of the second period, scoring on a breakaway. Purves stole the puck in his end and skated in alone, decking Utica's Schwab and scoring from close range.

The Skipjacks took the lead, 2-1, at 15:22 of the second period on Reynolds' short-handed goal. Brent Hughes intercepted a Utica pass and fed Reynolds, who steamed up the left boards on a breakaway. When he reached the circle he cut across the slot and beat Schwab with a backhand for his fifth goal.

The Devils tied the game, 2-2, at 16:28 of the second period, when Jim Dowd, in a goal-mouth scramble, knocked in the rebound of a shot by Ben Hankinson.

NOTES: D Ken Sabourin, on conditioning assignment from Washington, played for Baltimore last night. . . . Last night's game will be shown on HTS a week from today at 8 p.m. It also will be shown on Channel 44, Baltimore city cable, today at 5:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. and tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. . . . RW Steve Seftel (knee) and D Bobby Babcock (hand) missed last night's game for the Skipjacks. D Jamie Huscroft (hand) missed the game for Utica. Baltimore also scratched D Chris Clarke. The Devils scratched RW Daryn McBride and LW Matt Ruchty . . . NHL scouts Bill Barber of the Flyers, Gord Lane of the Islanders and Marcel Pelletier of the Bruins were at the game.

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