NORFOLK, Va. – Chris Wagner recorded the first hat-trick of his young career, but the Norfolk Admirals (34-22-2-7) fell in overtime to the Binghamton Senators (38-21-1-4), 6-5, in overtime on Saturday night at Norfolk Scope Arena. Next up for the Admirals are contests next Friday and Saturday nights against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Along with Wagner's three goals, Andre Petersson and Devante Smith-Pelly each chipped in with tallies of their own. Brad Thiessen (3-4-2) stopped 30 of 36 shots as his counterpart Scott Greenham (3-0-0) stopped 28 of 33 shots for Binghamton.
Norfolk opened scoring midway through the first period on Wagner's first goal of the game and twelfth marker of the season. He sent a shot from the right faceoff circle that Greenham stopped. The rebound was at the top of the goalmouth, where Max Sauve swatted at it. The puck caromed into the left circle, where Wagner slid a low shot past Greenham's right leg at 10:07.
Wagner doubled the home team's lead just 26 seconds later. Jesse Blacker intercepted the puck in the neutral zone in front of the timekeeper's booth and swept it to Zack Stortini, who moved it into the attacking zone along the right wing. Wagner out-raced a Binghamton skater to the puck and fired a shot between Greenham's legs for his second goal of the game and thirteenth of the season at 10:33.
Binghamton cut its deficit in half in the final two minutes of the first period. Cole Schneider sent a pass from the left faceoff dot across the slot to Jean-Gabriel Pageau at the edge of the right faceoff circle. Pageau sent a quick wrist shot past the outstretched glove of Thiessen at 18:06. The Admirals took a 2-1 lead into the locker room after one period.
Norfolk's restored its two-goal lead only 50 seconds into the second stanza. Kevin Gagne sent a pass from the top of the left circle to Petersson in the high slot. Petersson's initial shot was stopped by Greenham. However, Petersson hustled past two Binghamton defenders and shot his own rebound past Greenham's reach. Petersson's twentieth AHL goal this season and third as an Admiral made the score 3-1 Norfolk.
The Senators struck back just under four minutes later. Shane Prince intercepted the puck behind the Norfolk net and centered a pass to Derek Grant in the low slot. Grant sent a quick shot through Thiessen's legs at 4:29, cutting the Admirals' lead to 3-2.
Binghamton tied the game at 3-3 early in the third period. Stephane Da Costa accepted a pass from Prince at the top of the left circle and sent a wrist shot past a screened Thiessen at 4:39. Da Costa lit the lamp again five minutes later with a tidy snap shot into the top right corner for his second goal and the Senators' first lead of the night at 9:57 of the final frame.
The see-saw battle continued when Wagner helped on a Devante Smith-Pelly equalizer that tied the game at 4-4 only 35 seconds later. Once again, Greenham denied the first chance but couldn't front a shot that Smith-Pelly managed to get off low in the slot while shooting from his knees. His team-leading 26th goal of the season came at 10:32 in the third.
Both goalies stayed busy late in the third and Binghamton snatched the lead back when Coery Cowick stepped into a pass from Wacey Hamilton on the right side of the Admirals' zone. Cowick settled the puck and flew a shot past Thiessen's glove into the left side of the Norfolk net at 14:29 of the third.
Things briefly looked bleak for Norfolk until Wagner completed the hat trick. In his first game back from an appearance in Anaheim, Emerson Etem slithered a pass through the Senator defense to Max Friberg on the opposite side of the zone. Friberg looked to shoot, then fed Wagner who revealed himself at the far post and scooped the pass into the net to tie the game at 5-5 at 15:55 in the third.
The fireworks ceased briefly and then the game went to overtime.
A minute and a half into the extra session, Pageau controlled a puck thrown into the neutral zone and sprinted into the Norfolk zone in a footrace with Norfolk defenseman Jesse Blacker. Pageau dipped his right shoulder, turned the corner in front of Blacker to face Thiessen and raised the puck over Thiessen's left leg to the glove side. Binghamton snatched the comeback victory 1:34 into overtime and keep their lead atop the East Division.
Norfolk never had a power play and erased both Binghamton man advantages.
The Admirals wrap up their five-game homestand next weekend with two games versus East Division opponent Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Friday night is Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Night and will also feature a BB&T Hat Giveaway. Saturday night is Operation Smile Night and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Night followed by a Post Game Skate with the Admirals after the game.
Don’t miss a minute of Admirals action by purchasing your season tickets 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.
1. Stephane Da Costa – BNG
2. Chris Wagner - NOR
3. Jean-Gabriel Pageau - BNG