Special Teams Lead Admirals' Successful Drive for Five
NORFOLK, Va. – Backed by three power play goals and two shorthanded goals, the Norfolk Admirals (32-18-1-2) extended their winning streak to a season-best five games by defeating the Syracuse Crunch (20-23-4-3), 7-4, on Friday night at Norfolk Scope Arena. The same teams meet at Scope tomorrow night at 7:15 p.m.
With the victory, the Admirals remain tied for first place in the East Division with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and move three points ahead of the third-place Hershey Bears.
Seven different Admirals registered goals in the contest: Mike Kostka, Tyler Johnson, Alexandre Picard, Cory Conacher, Mike Angelidis, Trevor Smith and Pierre-Cedric Labrie. Conacher, Kostka and Smith each scored a goal and added a pair of assists. Netminder Dustin Tokarski made 18 saves and is now tied for the AHL lead with 23 victories this season.
Kostka gave the Admirals an early 1-0 lead with his second shorthanded tally of the season. While the Crunch skated with a five-on-four man advantage, Johnson led a two-on-one rush up the ice and into the attacking zone. After Johnson slipped a pass to Kostka in the left circle, Kostka sent a shot from the left faceoff dot off of the defender and under Syracuse netminder Antero Niittymaki for his eighth goal of the season at 2:43 of the first period.
The Crunch knotted the game at 1-1 with a power play goal early in the second period. After a shot by Luca Caputi bounced off of Tokarski, J.F. Jacques passed the loose rebound to Riley Holzapfel, who then fired the puck into the open net at 5:07.
Less than five minutes later, Brandon McMillian gave the Crunch a 2-1 lead. Following a shot from the blue line, Dan Sexton tipped the puck off of Tokarski. As the puck stopped in front of the Norfolk netminder, McMillan picked up the loose puck and snuck it behind Tokarski at 9:37 of the middle frame.
With less than four minutes remaining in the period, the Admirals squared the game up at 2-2 with Johnson’s 18th goal of the season. From behind the net, Matt Fornataro fed a pass to Conacher along the left half boards. Conacher slipped a pass to Johnson in the left faceoff circle, and Johnson snapped a shot over the glove of a screened Niittymaki at 16:11.
As time wound down in the second period, the Admirals reclaimed a one-goal with a Picard power play tally. As the Admirals skated with a five-on-four advantage, Smith passed the puck from behind the goal line in the right corner to Picard on top of the crease. Picard chipped a shot over Niittymaki to give Norfolk a 3-2 lead with his third goal of the season at 19:16.
The Admirals extended their lead to 4-2 with less than six minutes gone in the third period. Conacher deflected a shot from the point by Evan Oberg over the glove of Niittymaki for his league-leading 29th goal of the season at 5:45.
Thirteen seconds after the Norfolk goal, Holzapfel brought the Crunch back to within one goal with his second tally of the night. Following a neutral zone turnover, Holzapfel picked up a pass from Andrew Gordon and tucked the puck around Tokarski to narrow the Admirals' lead to 4-3 at 5:58 of the third.
Just under the midway point of the third period, the Admirals took a 5-3 lead with their second shorthanded goal of the night. With his team down a man, Angelidis received a breakout pass from Kostka. The Admirals’ captain skated in alone and banked a shot off of the blocker of Niittymaki for his 12th goal of the season at 9:57.
The Admirals extended their lead to 6-3 with their third power play goal of the night. After settling the puck down with his skate, Kostka threaded a pass to Smith on top of the crease. Smith tipped the pass over Niittymaki for his 21st of the season at 12:00.
Exactly one minute later, Labrie ended the night for Niittymaki as he tipped a shot by Jeff Dimmen over the Crunch goaltender for his 12th goal of the season at 13:00.
The Crunch drew within three goals of Norfolk at 7-4 as Rich Schofield sent a backhander over Tokarski and off the post at 14:40.
However, that would be all the scoring in the contest, as the Admirals skated away with the 7-4 victory.
Dustin Tokarski (23-11-0) turned aside 18 of 22 shots for his fourth straight win. Antero Niittymaki (3-6-0) allowed seven goals on 28 shots before being replaced in the third period. Iiro Tarkki stopped all five shots he faced in seven minutes of action and did not receive a decision.
Norfolk was 3-for-8 on the power play while Syracuse was 1-for-6.
The Admirals and Crunch will square off once again at Scope tomorrow night. The puck drops in the rematch at 7:15 p.m. Following the game tomorrow night, the Admirals will hold a post-game skate where fans can skate at Scope with their favorite Admirals. A limited number of skates will be available or fans may bring their own.
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.
Admirals 10-Packs for the 2011-12 season remain available for as little as $110. You may also reserve your 2012-13 season tickets with a deposit of as little as $100 per seat today. 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!
NOTES … Pierre-Cedric Labrie has points in a career-best seven straight games (5g, 3a). Labrie also has goals in three straight games (3g) and six of his last nine games (6g) … Labrie now has 12 goals this season, besting his previous career high of seven goals set last season and in 2007-08 … Twelve different Admirals recorded points in the game – including five players with multiple points … Alexandre Picard snapped a 20-game goalless drought with his first tally since Oct. 8 vs. Charlotte … The Admirals tied a franchise record by scoring two shorthanded goals in the game. Norfolk now has seven shorthanded goals this season – including three in its past two games … The Admirals scored three power play goals in a game for the fifth time this season, matching their season high … Riley Holzapfel's second period power play goal ended a shutout streak of 177:12 for Norfolk over Syracuse at Norfolk Scope Arena, dating back to a Nick Bonino PPG on January 18, 2011 ... The Admirals have won four straight home games over the Crunch dating back to January 18, 2011 … Did not play: Richard Petiot, Michel Ouellet and Eric Neilson.