The Whale caught a break just 41 seconds into the game, when an apparent Norfolk goal was waived-off by the officials. Originally, the call was a good goal for Admirals forward Alexandre Picard and Norfolk was going to have an early 1-0 lead. But after some discussion at center ice, the officials agreed that Picard touched the puck with a high-stick, and the goal was erased.
Nonetheless, the Whale had a poor start to the game, allowing Norfolk to control the puck for most of the opening three minutes.
But at 2:58, Norfolk’s Cory Conacher was assessed a minor-penalty for hooking, and the Whale received an opportunity to quickly turn the game around on a power-play. Although the Whale failed to score on the man-advantage, they still were able to force the momentum onto their side for the remainder of the period.
The Whale outshot and out-chanced the Admirals in period 1; beginning with a Jordan Owens breakaway attempt shortly after the Whale had its second power-play chance killed-off near the nine minute mark. Owens cut past the Norfolk defensemen, and flipped a backhand shot at Admirals goaltender Jaroslav Janus. Janus made the save on Owens, and a follow-up save on Ryan Bourque.
Connecticut had a third power-play chance killed-off at 12:33, but would score the first goal of the game shortly after.
At 14:49 of period 1, Whale’ forward Marek Hrivik found his line-mate Casey Wellman with a pass in the offensive zone. Wellman received Hrivik’s pass near the right face-off dot, and fired a quick shot-on-goal which Janus successfully stopped. Whale’ rookie Jonathan Audy-Marchessault crashed the net for a rebound, and banked a soft shot off Norfolk forward Pierre-Cedric Labrie into the Admirals goal for a 1-0 lead. Audy-Marchessault was credited with his fourth goal of the post-season, and the assists were given to Hrivik and Wellman.
The Whale was forced to kill a penalty late in the period, and after doing so they entered period 2 with a one-goal lead.
Period 2 had a similar start to the first frame, as Norfolk gained control of the puck early on, and created a strong scoring chance in the first minute. At the 55 second mark, Whale’ rookie J.T. Miller attempted to clear the puck out of his defensive zone, but instead he fanned on the attempt and Norfolk’s Mark Barberio swooped in to pick it up. Barberio fired a shot-on-goal, which Whale netminder Cam Talbot saved with his glove-hand.
The Whale quickly bounced back, and finished the period ahead in shots, 11-7.
Audy-Marchessault came close to his second goal of the game at the 10:10 mark when he was tripped on a breakaway, and rewarded a penalty-shot. Audy-Marchessault chose a slow approach to the penalty-shot, and skating towards Janus at a very slow-pace. Janus’ patience paid-off, though, as he made the save on Audy-Marchessault, and kept the game at a 1-0 score.
Norfolk received the period’s only power-play, which the Whale penalty-killers successfully took care of, and Connecticut entered period 3 with a 1-0 lead.
In playoff hockey, momentum is always important to a team’s success and ability to win a game. The Whale appeared to have the momentum on its side through periods 1 and 2, but in the third frame, the Admirals took control early and remained in control.
Norfolk outshot the Whale, 18-3, in the third period, and scored once to tie the game and force overtime. The goal was scored at 10:52 of the period, by rookie center Tyler Johnson.
Johnson was situated in front of Talbot’s crease, where he collected an Ondrej Palat feed and jammed it past Talbot and into the Whale net for the tying goal. It was Johnson’s second playoff goal, with Palat receiving the lone assist.
The Whale penalty-kill faced three Norfolk power-plays in the third period, and kept the game tied by erasing each of them.
Norfolk carried its dominance from period 3 into overtime, and continued to control the pace of the game, outshooting the Whale, 16-4, in 13 minutes. Talbot stood strong in his crease, denying shot after shot to keep his struggling club’s season alive.
But at the 13:01 mark of overtime, Norfolk caught a break when winger Richard Panik skated behind Whale’ defenseman Brendan Bell and collected a breakaway pass from Alex Killorn. When Panik reached the hashmarks he faked left and went right, forcing Talbot to the wrong side before he slid the puck across the Whale’s goal-line for the game-winner.
It was Panik’s second post-season goal, with assists going to Killorn and Evan Oberg. The goal gave the Admirals a 2-1 win, and the 4-2 series victory.
The three stars of the game were Panik (1), Janus (2) and Talbot (3)…other notable performances from the Whale side included Audy-Marchessault’s 1-0-1, six shot game; and Wellman’s 0-1-1, minus-1, four shot game…Audy-Marchessault led the Whale in shots with six, followed by Wellman, Owens and Kris Newbury who all recorded four…Talbot provided the Whale with another outstanding performance in goal, stopping 44-of-46 shots in the loss…the Whale power-play was 0-for-3 in the game, while its penalty-killing was 6-for-6…check the blog this weekend for a full series recap, and check during the week for 2011-12 season reviews…
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