HARTFORD, Conn. – Alex Killorn, Trevor Smith and Mike Angelidis scored in the second period and Dustin Tokarski made 27 saves as the Norfolk Admirals edged out the Connecticut Whale, 4-3, on Sunday night at the XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Admirals takes a two-games-to-one lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semifinals series with Game 4 slated for tomorrow night in Hartford.
Ondrej Palat scored in the first period for the Admirals, who won their 16th consecutive road game dating back to February 12 at Charlotte.
Connecticut took a 1-0 lead just 5:20 into the contest on the power play. Casey Wellman intercepted a Norfolk clearing attempt in the slot between the hashmarks. He sent a slap shot past Tokarski’s blocker and into the net.
The game’s next score also came on a Whale power play. However, this time, it was Palat finding the back of the net while Norfolk was shorthanded. He intercepted a Connecticut pass at the blue line in the Norfolk zone and sped toward Whale goaltender Cameron Talbot on a breakaway. He deked to his forehand before stretching to slip a backhand shot past Talbot’s left leg at 8:01 for his second goal of the playoffs.
Connecticut re-claimed the lead late in the opening frame. Marek Hrivik sped past a Norfolk defender in the right wing before cutting towards the net and attempting a shot. The puck bounced off traffic in the crease before being knocked into the net by Andre Deveaux at 17:12 for a 2-1 Whale lead.
The Whale came out strong to begin the second stanza, out-shooting the Admirals 11-1 midway through the frame. However, Tokarski stood tall, and the second half of the period belonged to Norfolk. Killorn tied the game at 2-2 on the power play. He sent a shot through a screen from the right half-wall that beat Talbot at 11:31 for his third goal of the post-season.
Norfolk took their first lead of the game less than one minute later on Smith’s third goal of the playoffs. Mark Barberio sent a shot from the right point. Smith deflected the shot from the slot past Talbot at 12:16 to give the visitors a 3-2 lead.
Norfolk’s captain doubled his team’s lead late in the second period with his first goal of the playoffs. Radko Gudas sent a shot from the right point that Michel Ouellet deflected on goal. Angelidis found the rebound on top of the crease and swept it past Talbot’s right leg at 17:40 for a 4-2 lead.
Connecticut trimmed Norfolk’s lead to one goal early in the third period with a five-on-three power play goal. Kris Newbury sent a pass from the right corner to Wellman at the top of the right circle. Wellman one-timed the puck past Tokarski at 1:06 to cut the Admirals’ lead to 4-3.
However, Norfolk’s defense was stingy and Tokarski thwarted the remaining four Connecticut shot attempts in the final frame as Norfolk held on for the one-goal victory.
Norfolk was 1-for-4 on the power play while Connecticut was 2-for-5.
Dustin Tokarski (4-1) stopped 27 of 30 shots for the win. Cameron Talbot (4-2) made 18 saves on 22 shots for the setback.
Norfolk Admirals 4 at Connecticut Whale 3 – Status: Final
Sunday, May 6, 2012 – XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Norfolk 1 3 0 – 4
Connecticut 2 0 1 – 3
1st Period-1, Connecticut, Wellman 2 5:20 (PP). 2, Norfolk, Palat 2 8:01 (SH). 3, Connecticut, Deveaux 2 (Hrivik, Newbury), 17:12. Penalties-Valentenko Ct (interference), 0:14; Smith Nor (boarding), 3:53; Segal Nor (slashing), 6:23; Bourque Ct (hooking), 8:59.
2nd Period-4, Norfolk, Killorn 3 (Kostka, Picard), 11:31 (PP). 5, Norfolk, Smith 3 (Barberio, Conacher), 12:16. 6, Norfolk, Angelidis 1 (Ouellet, Gudas), 17:40. Penalties-Oberg Nor (hooking), 0:56; McIlrath Ct (high-sticking), 9:37; Deveaux Ct (roughing), 18:51; Picard Nor (roughing), 20:00.
3rd Period-7, Connecticut, Wellman 3 (Newbury, Erixon), 1:06 (PP). Penalties-Barberio Nor (holding the stick), 0:43.
Shots on Goal-Norfolk 8-7-7-22. Connecticut 11-14-5-30.
Power Play Opportunities-Norfolk 1 / 4; Connecticut 2 / 5.
Goalies-Norfolk, Tokarski 4-1-0 (30 shots-27 saves). Connecticut, Talbot 4-2-0 (22 shots-18 saves).
Referees-Chris Ciamaga (24), Geno Binda (22).
Linesmen-Jim Briggs (83), Paul Simeon (66).