NORFOLK, Va. – Netminder Dustin Tokarski made 27 saves and both Tyler Johnson and Cory Conacher scored a power play goal, as the Norfolk Admirals defeated the Connecticut Whale, 4-1, on Friday night at Norfolk Scope Arena. With the Eastern Conference Semifinals series tied at one game apiece, the teams will travel to Connecticut for Game 3 on Sunday night.
Norfolk killed six of seven Connecticut power plays and has stopped 35 of 37 opponent power plays in the playoffs to date. Johnson scored his first professional playoff points with a goal and an assist. Alex Killorn opened the scoring with his second goal of the playoffs, while Mike Kostka’s second career playoff tally proved to be the game-winner as the Admirals snapped a two-game home losing streak. AHL MVP Cory Conacher capped off the scoring in the third period with his first professional playoff goal.
The Admirals opened a two-goal lead with a pair of even strength goals in the opening 20 minutes. Three minutes after the opening faceoff, Pierre-Cedric Labrie picked up a loose puck behind the Whale net. From behind the goal line to the glove side of Whale netminder Cameron Talbot, Labrie fed a pass to the top of the left faceoff circle. From there, Killorn chipped a shot over the glove of Talbot to put Norfolk ahead, 1-0.
Norfolk increased its lead to 2-0 with less than three minutes to go in the opening frame. From the center of the right faceoff circle, Alexandre Picard connected with Kostka on a cross-crease pass. After pinching in from the point, Kostka slipped a shot under a sprawling Talbot at 17:44.
The teams exchanged a pair of power play goals as the Admirals maintained their two-goal lead through 40 minutes.
Midway through the period, Connecticut’s Andre Deveaux narrowed the Norfolk lead to one goal. While Norfolk’s Evan Oberg served the second penalty of a double-minor for high-sticking, the Whale crashed the Admirals’ net. With a teammate knocked into the net, Deveaux jammed in a loose rebound to bring the score to 2-1 at 9:02.
The Admirals reclaimed a two-goal lead with a power play tally of their own. With 36 seconds remaining on a five-on-three power play, Kostka knocked a pass to Johnson for a shot. The initial shot bounced to Trevor Smith off a Whale defenseman in the crease. Smith’s rebound attempt deflected to Johnson, who sent the shot off Talbot and into the goal to put Norfolk ahead, 3-1, at 15:45.
Norfolk capped off scoring with their second power play tally of the evening. While skating with a five-on-four man advantage, Johnson connected with Conacher on a pass through the center of the Connecticut zone. From the right faceoff dot, he sent a slap shot beyond a diving Talbot to put the Admirals ahead, 4-1, at 4:41.
The Admirals finished the night 2-for-11 on the power play while holding Connecticut’s man advantage to one goal on seven attempts.
Tokarski (3-1) stopped 27 of 28 shots while his counterpart Cameron Talbot (4-1) finished the night with 36 saves on 40 shots.
Connecticut Whale 1 at Norfolk Admirals 4 – Status: Final
Friday, May 4, 2012 – Norfolk Scope
Connecticut 0 1 0 – 1
Norfolk 2 1 1 – 4
1st Period-1, Norfolk, Killorn 2 (Labrie, Aulie), 3:00. 2, Norfolk, Kostka 1 (Picard), 17:44. Penalties-Grant Ct (interference), 3:03; Picard Nor (boarding), 5:11; Picard Nor (slashing), 7:15; McIlrath Ct (interference), 11:16; Picard Nor (tripping), 14:58; Audy-Marchessault Ct (slashing), 18:39.
2nd Period-3, Connecticut, Deveaux 1 (Hrivik, Tessier), 9:02 (PP). 4, Norfolk, Johnson 1 (Smith, Kostka), 15:45 (PP). Penalties-Grant Ct (roughing), 3:24; Deveaux Ct (holding the stick), 6:19; Cote Nor (roughing), 6:19; Oberg Nor (double minor – high-sticking), 6:28; Redden Ct (roughing), 14:20; Newbury Ct (cross-checking), 15:00; Redden Ct (roughing), 19:54; Tessier Ct (unsportsmanlike conduct), 20:00; Picard Nor (unsportsmanlike conduct), 20:00.
3rd Period-5, Norfolk, Conacher 1 (Johnson, Barberio), 4:41 (PP). Penalties-Newbury Ct (tripping), 3:40; Deveaux Ct (interference, fighting, game misconduct – jersey, game misconduct – abuse of officials), 6:08; Hrivik Ct (misconduct – unsportsmanlike conduct), 6:08; Newbury Ct (unsportsmanlike conduct), 6:08; Segal Nor (fighting), 6:08; Conacher Nor (goaltender interference), 12:16; Wellman Ct (boarding), 12:48; Killorn Nor (interference), 16:11.
Shots on Goal-Connecticut 13-7-8-28. Norfolk 12-14-14-40.
Power Play Opportunities-Connecticut 1 / 7; Norfolk 2 / 11.
Goalies-Connecticut, Talbot 4-1-0 (40 shots-36 saves). Norfolk, Tokarski 3-1-0 (28 shots-27 saves).
Referees-Graham Skilliter (48), Jamie Koharski (84).
Linesmen-Matt MacPherson (83), Tom George (61).