NORFOLK, Va. – Richard Panik’s goal with 6:59 remaining in overtime lifted the Norfolk Admirals over the Connecticut Whale, 2-1, in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday night at Norfolk Scope Arena. The Admirals win the best-of-seven series, four games to two, and advance to the conference finals for the first time in their Calder Cup Playoff history.
Panik brought 5,832 fans at Scope to their feet just minutes after returning to the ice from an injury. He was struck in the face by a slapshot midway through the third period and missed the remainder of the third period and the majority of overtime while receiving treatment in the Norfolk locker room.
Tyler Johnson also scored for the Admirals, who outshot the Whale, 46-31, in the contest after being out-shot, 24-12 through the first two periods. Goaltender Jaroslav Janus (3-1) turned aside 30 of 31 shots.
The Whale got on the board first 14:49 into the first period. After a turnover at the Connecticut blueline, Casey Wellman carried the puck into the Norfolk zone along the left wing and sent a shot off Janus. The rebound came back to Wellman, and he sent it back into a maze of sticks and skates in the crease. Jonathan Audy-Marchessault was credited for the goal after the puck snuck past Janus.
Both goaltenders stood strong in the second period as the teams combined for 18 shots but were held off the scoreboard.
After posting just 12 shots in the opening two periods, Norfolk controlled the play in the third period by posting 18 shots in the frame to just three by Connecticut.
Just past the midway mark of the period, Johnson’s second goal of the playoffs tied the game at 1-1. From along the left boards, Palat intercepted a Whale pass and quickly fed the puck toward the slot. The pass deflected off a Connecticut defender to Johnson in the slot between the hashmarks. Johnson collected the fluttering puck and sent a backhand shot between the legs of Whale goaltender Cameron Talbot at 10:52, setting the stage for overtime.
On his first shift after returning from the injury, Panik split the Connecticut defense in the neutral zone and received a pass from Alex Killorn for a breakaway. Panik deked to the backhand before slipping a forehand shot around Talbot’s right leg and into the back of the net at 13:01 for the game-winner.
Talbot (5-4) finished the night with 44 saves on 46 shots in defeat.
The Admirals open the Eastern Conference finals against the winner of the St. John’s/Wilkes-Barre/Scranton series on Thursday night at Norfolk Scope at 7:15 p.m. A complete schedule is available at norfolkadmirals.com. The series between the IceCaps and Penguins will be decided tomorrow night in St. John’s at 6:00 p.m. EDT.
Connecticut Whale 1 at Norfolk Admirals 2 (OT) – Status: Final OT
Friday, May 11, 2012 – Norfolk Scope
Connecticut 1 0 0 0 – 1
Norfolk 0 0 1 1 – 2
1st Period-1, Connecticut, Audy-Marchessault 4 (Hrivik, Wellman), 14:49. Penalties-Conacher Nor (hooking), 2:58; Bourque Ct (goaltender interference), 6:10; Segal Nor (hooking), 6:33; Killorn Nor (holding the stick), 10:33; Newbury Ct (interference), 16:59.
2nd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Audy-Marchessault Ct (slashing), 7:42; Wellman Ct (holding the stick), 20:00.
3rd Period-2, Norfolk, Johnson 2 (Palat), 10:52. Penalties-Erixon Ct (holding), 7:52; Deveaux Ct (roughing), 11:32; Picard Nor (roughing), 11:32; Tessier Ct (slashing), 13:52.
OT Period-3, Norfolk, Panik 2 (Killorn, Oberg), 13:01. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Connecticut 13-11-3-4-31. Norfolk 5-7-18-16-46.
Power Play Opportunities-Connecticut 0 / 3; Norfolk 0 / 6.
Goalies-Connecticut, Talbot 5-4-0 (46 shots-44 saves). Norfolk, Janus 3-1-0 (31 shots-30 saves).
Referees-Darcy Burchell (42), Mark Lemelin (41).
Linesmen-Scott Pomento (25), Tom George (61).