NORFOLK, Va. Marc-Antoine Pouliot recorded two goals and an assist as his team built a 4-1 lead in the first period. However, the Norfolk Admirals (37-24-8-6) surrendered four goals in the second period as they fell to the Hershey Bears (45-24-3-5), 5-4, in front of 7,639 fans on Saturday night at Norfolk Scope Arena. The Admirals remain in fourth place in the AHL's East Division and will conclude the regular season with a five-game road trip beginning on Monday in Charlotte against the third-place Checkers at 7:00 p.m.
Mattias Ritola and Chris Durno also scored for the Admirals. Goaltender Dustin Tokarski stopped 12 of 16 shots before leaving the game due to an injury in the second period. Jaroslav Janus was saddled with the loss after allowing only one goal on 16 shots in 30:19 of relief.
The Bears opened scoring just 59 seconds into the game off a strange bounce. Kyle Greentree found the ricochet of a dump-in that had caromed off a stanchion and scored from the slot for a 1-0 Hershey lead.
However, Norfolk stormed back with four straight goals to end the first period. Ritola scored his fifth goal of the season at 3:56 after accepting a Pouliot feed and sending a backhand shot past Bears goaltender Braden Holtby.
Pouliot gave Norfolk a 2-1 lead with his first goal of the game at 6:09. While on the power play, he accepted a Blair Jones feed from the mid slot and ripped a shot from the bottom of the left circle past Holtby.
Pouliot's 23rd goal of the season was very similar to his 22nd. This time, Ritola sent a pass from the top of the right circle to Pouliot at the bottom of the left circle for a nearly identical power play goal.
Durno put the Admirals ahead 4-1 with just 43 seconds remaining in the first period. He picked off a Hershey pass in the Admirals zone and skated the length of the ice, beating two Bears defenders before ripping a slap shot over Holtby's left shoulder for his 19th goal of the season.
As with last night's game, however, the Bears utilized a four-goal period to seize control of a game. Francois Bouchard sent a shot from the right wing over Tokarski's right shoulder at 2:33. Greentree's second goal of the contest came on the power play less than a minute later as he accepted a Keith Aucoin pass in the slot and sent a shot into the net at 3:08. Patrick McNeill tied the game at 4-4 after executing a give-and-go with Mathieu Perrault and scoring from the slot at 6:12.
Just over two minutes later, Tokarski was accidentally struck in the chin by a skate and left the game for treatment of the cut. He was replaced in goal by Janus.
After Janus was forced to make several big saves early on, Andrew Gordon gave Hershey a 5-4 lead 17:34 into the second period off assists from Aucoin and Brian Fahey.
The Admirals sent 11 shots on Holtby in the third period but were unable to find the equalizer.
Dustin Tokarski (16 shots, 12 saves) did not receive a decision after starting the game and playing 28:27. He received treatment in the Norfolk locker room for his injury. Jaroslav Janus (16 shots, 15 saves) was saddled with the loss after allowing only one goal in 30:19 of relief. Braden Holtby (31 shots, 27 saves) picked up the win.
Norfolk was 2-3 on the power play. Hershey was 1-5.
The Admirals will conclude the regular season with a five-game road trip beginning on Monday in Charlotte against the Checkers at 7:00 p.m. Follow all of the action at 102.1-FM and 1490-AM The Game, 1021TheGame.com and ahllive.com.
Season tickets for the 2011-12 season are now available! Low monthly payments available for a limited time only. 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 for more details or to purchase your tickets!
1. Kyle Greentree HER
2. Marc-Antoine Pouliot NOR
3. Patrick McNeill HER
EAST DIVISION PLAYOFF RACE Norfolk's magic number to clinch a playoff spot dropped to three points over the Worcester Sharks after Worcester lost tonight to the Providence Bruins. Any combination of three standings points gained by Norfolk or lost by Worcester will clinch a berth in the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs for the Admirals With five games remaining in the regular season, Norfolk has 88 points and is in fourth place in the AHL's East Division. The fifth-place Binghamton Senators (87 points, 4 games remaining) remain one point back of Norfolk after losing to Bridgeport tonight. The Admirals have one game in hand on the Senators The Worcester Sharks (82 points, 4 games remaining) remain six points back of the Admirals should the "Crossover Rule" come into effect. Norfolk has one game in hand on Worcester The Charlotte Checkers (93 points, 3 games remaining) defeated the Albany Devils tonight and moved five points ahead of Norfolk. The Admirals hold two games in hand on the Checkers It is now mathematically impossible for Norfolk to catch the second-place Hershey Bears (98 points, 3 games remaining), as they are ten points ahead of the Admirals The top four spots in the East Division are guaranteed to qualify for the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs. The "Crossover Rule" is in effect where if the fifth place team in the East Division has more points than the fourth place team in the Atlantic Division, that team will cross over into the Atlantic Division Semifinals.
NOTES The crowd of 7,639 at Scope tonight was the fourth largest attendance this season and ranks seventh on the AHL Admirals all-time single-game attendance list Earlier today, the American Hockey League suspended Admirals defenseman Vladimir Mihalik one game. He served his suspension tonight Did not play: Scott Jackson, Tim Marks, Mitch Fritz, Cedrick Desjardins, Pat Nagle, Matt Fornataro, Vladimir Mihalik.