NORFOLK, Va. – Andreas Thuresson scored 2:53 into overtime as the Connecticut Whale defeated the Norfolk Admirals, 3-2, in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series on Wednesday night at Norfolk Scope Arena. The Admirals trail the Whale, one game to none, in the best-of-seven series. Game 2 is set for Friday night at Scope at 7:30 p.m.
Ondrej Palat scored his first professional playoff goal and Pierre-Cedric Labrie tied the game at 2-2 late in the first period. Dustin Tokarski (2-1) stopped 26 of 29 shots in the setback. All the scoring in the game came in the first period until Thuresson’s game-winner.
Norfolk took an early lead with the Palat goal at 5:43 of the first period. After Trevor Smith took a pass from Jean-Philippe Cote in the right corner, he centered to Brandon Segal in the mid-slot. Segal sent a shot that Whale goaltender Cameron Talbot kicked out into the left circle. Without breaking stride towards the goal, Palat fired the puck over Talbot’s glove to put Norfolk up 1-0.
Connecticut responded with two quick goals less than three minutes later. The first came when Tim Erixon found Jonathan Audy-Marchessault outside the crease. Audy-Marchessault beat Tokarski on his second shot over the netminder’s left leg for the tying goal at 8:18.
The second goal for Connecticut came just 12 seconds later and was the result of three quick passes. J.T. Miller passed the puck from the right corner to Casey Wellman at the right half wall. Wellman threw the puck in front of the crease, where Marek Hrivik redirected it through Tokarski’s legs at 8:30.
Labrie tied the game at 2-2 late in the first period. Mark Barberio pinched in from the right point to beat a Connecticut defender to the loose puck in the right corner. He then threw the puck towards the crease, where Labrie sent a shot wide. Killorn angled his right skate on top of the goalmouth to corral the puck and send it back to Labrie at the right edge of the slot. Labrie then sent a shot through traffic and over Talbot’s glove at 16:56 for his second goal of the post-season.
The goal fest would come to a halt in the second period when the teams combined for 21 shots, but no red lights. Midway through the period, Norfolk killed a two-man disadvantage with two of their best penalty killers, Evan Oberg and Cote, in the penalty box. The Norfolk penalty kill stood strong, killing four Connecticut power plays in the second stanza alone.
The stalemate carried over into the third period when Tokarski stopped 12 shots and Talbot denied nine. The game would require overtime.
Just 2:53 into the extra frame, Thuresson sent a slapshot from the upper-left circle. The puck hit Tokarski and deflected up and over his head. With the Norfolk netminder trying to find the rebound, the puck came down behind him and rolled into the goal for the game-winner.
Talbot (4-0) stopped 31 of 33 shots for the win.
Norfolk was 0-for-6 on the power play. Connecticut was 0-for-5 with the man advantage.
Connecticut Whale 3 (OT) at Norfolk Admirals 2 – Status: Final OT
Wednesday, May 2, 2012 – Norfolk Scope
Connecticut 2 0 0 1 – 3
Norfolk 2 0 0 0 – 2
1st Period-1, Norfolk, Palat 1 (Segal, Smith), 5:43. 2, Connecticut, Audy-Marchessault 2 (Erixon), 8:18. 3, Connecticut, Hrivik 5 (Wellman, Miller), 8:30. 4, Norfolk, Labrie 2 (Barberio, Killorn), 16:56. Penalties-Nightingale Ct (boarding), 2:14; Smith Nor (tripping), 13:56; Deveaux Ct (roughing), 20:00; Nightingale Ct (roughing), 20:00; Angelidis Nor (unsportsmanlike conduct), 20:00.
2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-served by Picard Nor (bench minor – too many men), 2:45; Gudas Nor (interference), 5:21; Bell Ct (high-sticking), 5:47; Oberg Nor (hooking), 8:22; Cote Nor (tripping), 9:19; Redden Ct (interference), 11:43; Erixon Ct (holding), 19:00.
3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Owens Ct (hooking), 4:10.
OT Period-5, Connecticut, Thuresson 1 (Owens, Bell), 2:53. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Connecticut 8-7-12-2-29. Norfolk 11-13-9-0-33.
Power Play Opportunities-Connecticut 0 / 5; Norfolk 0 / 6.
Goalies-Connecticut, Talbot 4-1-0 (33 shots-31 saves). Norfolk, Tokarski 3-1-0 (29 shots-26 saves).
Referees-Graham Skilliter (48), Jamie Koharski (84).
Linesmen-Matt MacPherson (83), Mark Hamlett (81).