NORFOLK, Va. – Paul Szczechura had a goal and three assists as the Norfolk Admirals built a two-goal lead in the third period. However, the Portland Pirates scored three unanswered goals to defeat the Admirals, 7-6 in overtime, on Saturday night at Norfolk Scope Arena.
Norfolk (5-2-1-1) was led offensively by Paul Szczechura's goal and three assists. He was joined by Mathieu Roy, Juraj Simek, Matt Fornataro, James Wright and Johan Harju as the Admirals built a 6-4 lead with under ten minutes left in regulation.
However, Portland (8-2-0-0) registered goals by Travis Turnbull and Drew Schiestel to tie the game at 6-6 with just over five minutes to play in regulation, and Marc-Andre Gragnani netted the overtime game-winner 1:05 into the extra session.
The Pirates received a pair of goals and an assist from Derek Whitmore while Mark Mancari and Colin Stuart each had a goal for the visitors.
The Pirates took a 1-0 lead on their first shot for the second straight game, as Mancari connected on a one-timer at 3:27.
The Admirals struck back just over a minute later to tie the game. Szczechura found the rebound of a Stefano Giliati shot in the goalmouth and lifted a backhand shot over the right leg of Portland goaltender Jhonas Enroth at 5:36.
Norfolk took a 2-1 lead less than eight minutes later, as Roy's slap shot from the right point beat the blocker of Enroth at 13:27.
The Pirates tied the game just 2:01 into the second period. Whitmore found his own rebound in the slot and sent a shot through traffic and past Norfolk netminder Dustin Tokarski to level the score at 2-2.
Norfolk re-claimed the lead a few minutes later on a highlight-reel play. Marc-Antoine Pouliot chipped a pass from the right corner into the air toward the top of the crease, barely eluding the sweep check of a Portland defender. Simek batted the puck into the net off the shaft of his stick and past the blocker of Enroth at 6:30 to put the Admirals on top 3-2.
The Admirals doubled their lead just over seven minutes later as Fornataro sent an arcing shot up and over the left shoulder of Enroth at 13:47 for a 4-2 Norfolk lead.
The third period featured six goals in the final 10:14 of the frame. Whitmore finished off a two-on-one play with Nick Crawford at 9:36 to draw Portland within a goal of Norfolk.
However, Wright briefly restored Norfolk's two-goal lead after he buried the rebound of a Szczechura shot for a power play goal and a 5-3 Admirals lead at 10:03.
Stuart answered just 26 seconds later by firing the rebound of a T.J. Brennan shot past Tokarski at 10:29.
The see-saw battle continued as Harju put Norfolk up 6-4 just under a minute later when his shot from the right faceoff dot went between the legs of Enroth for a power play goal at 11:28. Following the goal, the Pirates elected to replace Enroth with goaltender David Leggio.
The change in net sparked the Pirates, who once again closed their gap to one goal on Turnbull's goal at 12:59. Schiestel then scored less than two minutes later on assists from Turnbull and Brian Roloff at 14:54 to knot the score at 6-6.
Gragnani ended the game 1:05 into overtime on assists from Mancari and Alex Biaga.
Dustin Tokarski (29 shots, 22 saves) took the loss. David Leggio (5 shots, 5 saves) earned the win in 9:37 of relief. Jhonas Enroth (35 shots, 29 saves) did not receive a decision after starting the game and playing 51:13.
Norfolk was 2-5 on the power play. Portland was 0-3.
Next weekend, the Admirals and Charlotte Checkers will square off in a home-and-home set of games. The first game will take place on Friday in Charlotte at 7:00 p.m. The teams will then travel to Norfolk on Saturday for a 7:15 p.m. puck drop.
Saturday is the Admirals Fall Puck Crawl to benefit the Officer Victor Decker Memorial Fund. Puck Crawl participants will receive discounts on Saturday afternoon at participating Downtown Norfolk restaurants, promotional items and a ticket to Saturday night’s Admirals game in their registration package. For more details, please visit norfolkadmirals.com or call (757) 640-1212.
Individual tickets for all regular season games start at just $12. Tickets are available now at the Scope Box Office, all Ticketmaster Outlets, charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000 and online at ticketmaster.com.
Don’t miss a minute of the action by purchasing your 2010-11 season tickets today. Season tickets start at just $350 while 10-Packs are available for as little as $110. Stop by the Admirals’ Administrative Offices at Scope, call (757) 640-1212 weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or visit norfolkadmirals.com anytime!
1. Derek Whitmore – POR
2. Paul Szczechura – NOR
3. Travis Turnbull – POR
NOTES … Marc-Antoine Pouliot has points in five straight games (2G, 7A) and eight of Norfolk's first nine games (3G, 13A). He continues to lead Norfolk in scoring and is tied with Hershey's Keith Aucoin for the AHL scoring lead … James Wright (2G, 3A), Matt Fornataro (2G, 3A) and Johan Harju (3G, 3A) each have points in three straight games … Harju (5G, 7A) is now tied for sixth in AHL scoring with 12 points … Norfolk has now scored five or more goals in five of its first nine games (55.6%). They scored five or more goals in just 12 of 80 games (15%) during the 2009-10 season … The Admirals are now averaging an AHL-best 4.56 goals per game … Norfolk's season goals against total increased 81.3% this weekend against Portland, going from 16 to 29 goals against after the Pirates scored 13 goals … Entering Friday's game, Norfolk's defense was ranked fourth in the AHL with an average of only 2.29 goals against. It is now ranked 23rd in defense at 3.22 goals against per game … With an assist on Norfolk's first goal of the game, Stefano Giliati recorded his first point as an Admiral … Scratches: Kevin Quick, Scott Jackson, Tim Marks, Mitch Fritz … Attendance: 3,039.