WORCESTER, Mass. – Sami Vatanen’s power play goal 3:24 into overtime gave the Norfolk Admirals (37-30-4-1) a 4-3 win over the Worcester Sharks (30-32-4-6) on Saturday night at the DCU Center.
The Admirals, who have won four straight games, also received goals from Patrick Maroon, Devante Smith-Pelly and Chris Wagner, while Charlie Sarault had two assists. Goaltender Frederik Andersen (24-15-1) stopped 31 of 34 shots for the win. Norfolk out-shot Worcester, 49-34.
With the win, the Admirals and Connecticut Whale now each have 79 points for seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Norfolk has four games remaining while Connecticut only has three games remaining in the regular season. The Admirals extended their lead over the Hershey Bears and Manchester Monarchs to four points for the eighth and final playoff berth in the AHL’s Eastern Conference. The Bears and Monarchs each have 75 points with four games to play.
The Admirals will travel to Providence, Rhode Island, to take on the Eastern Conference-leading Providence Bruins at 3:05 p.m. tomorrow afternoon.
The Sharks took a 1-0 lead just 4:29 into the first period. Riley Brace sent a shot from the left circle that Andersen stopped. James Livingston cut through the right circle and scored on the rebound.
Worcester’s lead doubled just more than seven minutes later. Matt Pelech sent a slap shot from the right point through a screen and past Andersen at 11:43 to give the home team a 2-0 lead.
Norfolk charged back in the second period, out-shooting the Sharks, 23-8, and finding a pair of goals to knot the score at 2-2. While the teams skated at four-on-four, Charlie Sarault sent a pass from the right circle to Nate Guenin in the low slot for a shot. Worcester goaltender Harri Sateri blocked the initial shot, but Maroon found the rebound on top of the goalmouth and scored his team-leading 24th goal at 5:36.
The Admirals tied the game at 2-2 off a turnover just over six minutes later. A Sharks defenseman attempted a pass from the left circle. However, Smith-Pelly picked it off in the high slot and sent a shot from between the hashmarks past Sateri’s blocker at 11:55 for his 13th goal of the season.
Norfolk took a 3-2 lead off the opening faceoff in the third period. Hampus Lindholm prevented a Worcester clearing attempt from exiting the attacking zone at the left point. He then sent a shot through traffic that Sateri blocked. However, Wagner found the rebound in the low slot and scored his eighth goal of the season just 13 seconds into the third period.
The Sharks battled back to tie the game at 3-3 just over seven minutes later. Worcester forward Riley Brace collected a pass behind the Norfolk net and sent a feed across the goalmouth to Eriah Hayes, who sent the puck into the net past the right leg of Andersen at 7:14.
Neither team scored after that point of the third period, sending the game to overtime. Brace was whistled for a faceoff violation 2:54 into overtime, giving Norfolk the power play. Sarault sent a pass from the right circle to Vatanen in the high slot. Vatanen sent a one-timer slap shot off the crossbar and into the net at 3:24 for his ninth goal of the season and a 4-3 Norfolk win.
Sateri (14-20-3) stopped 45 of 49 shots in defeat.
Norfolk was 1-for-6 on the power play. Worcester was 0-for-4, as the Admirals stretched their streak of consecutive opponent power plays killed to 33.
The puck drops tomorrow afternoon at 3:05 p.m. as the Admirals face off against the Providence Bruins in the third game of Norfolk’s regular season-ending six-game road trip. All games can be heard on 102.1-FM, 1490-AM or 1021TheGame.com. You may also watch at AHLLive.com.
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. Sami Vatanen – NOR
2. James Livingston – WOR
3. Chris Wagner – NOR