Goaltending made the difference.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 4 goals on 21 shots for the loss. He made 1 or 2 big saves, but his softie short side at the end of the second period was the difference in the game. Soft goals have a way of being the margin of losing more often than not.
HER Ford, (6) (Potulny, Micflikier), 7:42 (PP)
HER Mink, (11) (Micflikier, McNeill), 11:37 (PP)
NOR Ouellet, (6) (Smith, Conacher), 16:38
HER Bourque, (15) (Aucoin), 19:42 (SH)
NOR Conacher, (17) (Oberg, Barberio), 4:05 (PP)
HER Ford, (7) (Potulny, Micflikier), 4:37
NOR Labrie, (6) (Cote, Barberio), 5:11
Cory Conacher was the game's second star.
If the Lightning ever do pull the trigger to acquire a young goaltender from another team, they could do worse than Braden Holtby. Just saying. Norfolk would've won this game 6-4 or so without him, and we've seen Holtby play well against the Lightning at the NHL level, too.
At the end of the day, if the Admirals don't learn to win games against the Bears and Penguins, they're not going to get where they want to go this season. That's the challenge of playing in such a competitive division. They'll get another crack at it tomorrow against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Box score from TheAHL.com.