Jaroslav Janus stopped all 24 shots he faced tonight for his first shutout as a professional. He didn't have to face a ton of quality chances, but he got himself in front of the ones Lowell did have. His athleticism is outstanding, and if his positioning ever catches up, he'll be an NHLer.
NOR Parrish, (13) (Fornataro, Fadden), 11:58
NOR Simek, (14) (Keller, Mihalik), 17:40 (PP)
NOR Tyrell, (3) (Tarkir), 17:37 (SH)
Janus, Dana Tyrell, and Mark Parrish were the game's three stars. It was a big night for the Presov Mafia all around between Janus' shutout, Juraj Simek having a power play goal, and big Vladimir Mihalik getting his 10th point of the season. All three players were born in Presov, Slovakia, and all three played well tonight.
For my money, Tyrell was the best player on the ice tonight, though. He's starting to exhibit a level of hockey sense in how to use his speed that I've never seen in his career, and it's got to have the Lightning salivating. He's so quick and his acceleration is so outstanding, defensemen are terrified of him. He's starting to use that to his advantage and curling when he gets into the zone to buy an extra 2-3 feet of ice, or slowing up a step to also buy him some space, and it gives him the chance to make the pass or shoot. It's a lot like how Martin St. Louis uses his speed, and Tyrell's shorthanded goal was a prime example of it. He barrelled into the zone on a 2-on-2, started to slow up as an Admirals trailer was jumping into the zone, and just allowed the traffic to flow by the net before blistering a top corner shot for the goal. Buy stock in Tyrell now while it's still undervalued. You'll make your money back five fold. On a related note, Mitch Fadden is an absolute magician with the puck when he has time and space. He's fun to watch when he's running the power play from the right wing half board.
Norfolk outshot Lowell 41-24 in the game, and it seemed like they played 3/4 of the night in the Devils' zone. In fairness, Lowell only dressed 4 natural defensemen tonight due to injuries and call ups. Norfolk gets Lowell again tomorrow night, and considering the way the blueliners on Lowell's tongues were wagging from fatigue, it's a prime chance for Norfolk to get back-to-back wins in two nights against the same opponent, which is difficult to do.
From a standings standpoint, it was a nearly perfect night for the Admirals. In the East Division, 2nd place Albany fell to Hershey, so the Admirals now close to within 4 points of second place with the River Rats having 1 game in hand. 3rd place Norfolk extended its lead over 4th place Adirondack, which was idle, to 4 points with the Phantoms holding 3 games in hand. They also extended their lead over 5th place Syracuse to 6 points after Syracuse was defeated by Portland. Syracuse holds 2 games in hand over Norfolk, and fell into a tie at 50 points with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, which defeated Binghamton tonight in a shootout. The Pens hold two games in hand on the Admirals. The Admirals extended their lead over 7th place Binghamton to 9 points in the process, but the Sens hold 5 games in hand.
In the crossover, Providence blew out the Atlantic Division's 5th place team, Hartford, pulling the Admirals to within 1 point of the Wolf Pack with Hartford holding 1 game in hand. As readers of this blog are probably sick of hearing at this point, if the 5th place team in the Atlantic Division finishes ahead of the 4th place team in the East Division, they will still go to the playoffs, so it's important for the Admirals to not only take care of business in their division. They also need to try to make sure they outpace 5th place in the Atlantic to maximize their playoff chances. Bridgeport and Providence are tied for 6th in the Atlantic with 55 points, 1 point behind Norfolk with the Bruins having 1 game in hand on the Ads.
Norfolk has 15 home games remaining on the schedule and 11 on the road. They've pulled to 2 games under .500 at The Scope and they're 4 games over .500 away from home. Point being: if the Admirals can keep improving on their Division-worst home mark, they'll be in fantastic shape.
Jim Johnson is 9-1-1-1 in his first dozen games as Head Coach. Instant gratification.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Jim Johnson is 7-0-1-1 as Head Coach.
Jaroslav Janus allowed 2 goals on 31 shots for the win.
HFD Locke, (20) (Byers, Nightingale), 0:52 (SH)
NOR Fadden, (3) (Fornataro, Wishart), 11:56 (PP)
HFD Roche, (2) (Grachev, Nightingale), 8:45
NOR Keller, (8) (McGinnis, Szczechura), 16:55
NOR Szczechura, (7) (Lashoff, Simek), 3:50
After a slow start in the first period, the Admirals outshot Hartford 34-17 from the second period on. The only downside of the night is that they surrendered a point in the standings to Hartford, which still presents a crossover problem from the Atlantic Division.
Norfolk still holds 3rd place in East Division with 52 points, and is now 1 game over .500. They have gained 2 points on 2nd place Albany and are now 5 points back of the River Rats with Albany holding a game in hand. They remain 2 points ahead of 4th place Adirondack and 5th place Syracuse with the Phantoms holding 2 games in hand. They gained 2 points on 6th place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, which is now 4 points back with the Pens holding 2 games in hand. The Admirals also maintained their 8 point lead on last place Binghamton with the Sens still holding 4 games in hand.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Norfolk remains undefeated in regulation under Jim Johnson, but fails to secure the second point.
Jaroslav Janus stopped 31 of 34 shots for the overtime loss.
NOR Simek, (12) (Smolenak, Jackson), 11:02
SPR Fretter, (18) (Trukhno, Pokulok), 13:03
SPR Plante, (2) (David, Wiseman), 16:15
NOR Fornataro, (3) (Wishart, Smolenak), 0:24 (PP)
SPR Reddox, (11) (Tarkir, Minard), 1:32
Janus was named the game's third star. A scoring change took away a point from Ty Wishart on the winning goal against Hartford, so tonight's assist is actually his 20th point of the season. The question remains the same though: why not 30? He's got it rolling, and shows no signs of letting up. Radek Smolenak is starting to step up in clutch time of the season. He has 2 goals and 6 points on the current road trip, on which the Admirals have claimed 9 of a possible 10 points in the 5 games.
Norfolk stays at 2 games under .500 with 45 points in 47 games and remains in 4th place in the East Division. However, due to the crossover rules this season, it's highly likely that only the top 3 teams in the East will make the postseason. The Admirals picked up a point on 5th place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to move 1 point ahead of the Penguins with the Pens holding 2 games in hand. They also picked up a point on Binghamton to move 3 points up on the Sens with the Senators holding 4 games in hand. That's the good news. The bad news is that they lost a point to Adirondack, which is now 2 points up on Norfolk with 2 games in hand.
And that leads to a huge 4-point tilt tomorrow night between Norfolk and the Phantoms. If Norfolk wins in regulation, they'll move into a tie with Adirondack for the final playoff spot in the East at 47 points. I suspect that's why Jim Johnson saved Dustin Tokarski for that matchup. He's 2-0-0 in his starts on this road trip, including the big 1-0 shutout in Lowell last Sunday.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Jim Johnson is 2-0-0 as Head Coach.
Jaroslav Janus allowed 3 goals on 20 shots for the win. He has to be basking in all this goal support he's suddenly getting.
MCH Gauthier, (7) (Holloway, Cavanagh), 3:42
NOR Smolenak, (6) (Craig, Mihalik), 19:08
NOR Fadden, (1) (Wishart, Parrish), 3:32 (PP)
NOR Fornataro, (2) (Quick, Fadden), 6:05
MCH Walker, (3) (Clune, Elkins), 17:25
MCH Westgarth, (8) (King, Kolomatis), 10:13
NOR Hall, (9) (Smolenak, Krajicek), 16:59
NOR Smolenak, (7) (Wishart), 19:18 (EN)
Adam Hall and Mitch Fadden were the game's first and second stars. Norfolk outshot Manchester, which is in first place in the Atlantic Division, by a stunning 49-20 margin. The recent changes to the Norfolk staff have, if nothing else, lit a fire under the team.
Fadden scored his first AHL goal in the game and has 4 points over the past 2 games after going scoreless for the first 15 games of his pro career. The consensus on Fadden has always been that if he commits himself to hustle defensively and physically, and he learns to train like a pro, he can be a scorer not just at this level but up top in the NHL as well. He's struggled with some injuries and he'll probably need a big boy workout regime to build himself up this offseason to help prevent those, but the effort level has been way up with Fadden and the floodgates have finally opened this weekend. The Lightning have to be very pleased to see him coming on.
Speaking of which, Ty Wishart has 3 multi-point games in his last 4 contests. He's playing his way into the conversation for next year's Lightning blueline.
The best news for the Admirals may have been 2 goals and 1 assist by Radek Smolenak. With Brandon Bochenski up in Tampa and Martins Karsums off in Riga, Latvia, Norfolk needs all hands on deck in the scoring department. Smolenak had just 2 points in the 15 games prior to tonight's contest. Smolenak had 24 goals last season, but he only had 5 coming into tonight. He needs to get hot as the Admirals try to climb the ladder back into playoff contention.
Norfolk picks up 2 points on Adirondack and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and keeps pace with Binghamton with the win. So, the Admirals move within 4 points of the Penguins for the final playoff spot. That's the good news. The bad news is that the Phantoms, who are 3 points ahead of the Ads, have 2 games in hand on Norfolk and the Senators, who are 2 points ahead of the Ads, have 3 games in hand. So, every point is extremely precious for Norfolk right now.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
The Admirals get a big win for their new coach in a game they absolutely had to have.
Jaroslav Janus allowed 2 goals on 19 shots for his first professional win. The Admirals outshot the Falcons 36-19 in the game.
SPR Fretter, (17) (Reddox, Trukhno), 1:29
SPR Cleaver, (1) (Paukovich, Beauregard), 9:17
NOR Parrish, (10) (Fadden), 10:33
NOR Wishart, (7) (Fadden, Fornataro), 12:54
NOR Fornataro, (1) (Wishart, Parrish), 17:37
PTO Matt Fornataro and Ty Wishart were the game's first and second stars. I don't want to oversell it, but Wishart is becoming a real offensive star for Norfolk. In his last 20 games, Wishart has 6 goals and 13 points. He's also -2 over that span. That's pretty good considering in his first 22 games he had 1 goal, 3 points, and he was -12.
Congratulations to Mitch Fadden for his first professional point and his first multi-point night as a professional. He's been working hard of late to get it. It's nice to see the floodgates start to part a bit. Here's to hoping that first pro goal isn't far behind.
Jim Johnson is 1-0-0 as Head Coach. You can't argue with the winning percentage. Norfolk is now 6 points behind the Penguins for the final playoff spot in the East Division.
Box score from TheAHL.com.