Norfolk rises to the occassion in the biggest game of the season thus far.
Dustin Tokarski dropped a 26 save shutout on the Penguins in a division game the Admirals absolutely needed. It was Tokarski's second shutout of the season and he's lifted his record back above .500 at 9-8-0. More interesting, he's rebuilt his save percentage from the .894 sv% he had at the end of October, to the .908 sv% he had at the end of November, to now having a .917 sv% by virtue of a scintilating December where he has a .962 sv% and 1.00 GAA in three starts. He's passed battery-mate Riku Helenius who entered the month with a .917 sv% but has since dipped to a .904 sv% after a pair of tough starts in December.
NOR Parrish, (7) (Bochenski, Jackson), 12:48
NOR Bochenski, (15) (Wishart), 10:26
Norfolk entered the game one point back of the Penguins in fifth place in the East Division. A loss would have dropped the Admirals to 3 games under .500 and 3 games out of 4th place. Instead, they've leapfrogged Wilkes-Barre/Scranton into 4th place, 1 point back of 3rd place Binghamton and they've closed to 1 game under .500. The lead back (Hershey and Albany) may have pulled away in the division, but tonight's win has kept Norfolk square in the middle of the fight for a playoff spot.
Ty Wishart had an assist in tonight's game, which puts him at 8 points in 29 games this season, which tops the 7 points he had in 61 games last year. Incremental progress.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Halifax Mooseheads 1 @ Moncton Wildcats 6
D Mark Barberio, MCT: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season Totals: 32 GP, 3-22-25, +10, 32 PIM
A quiet night for Barberio as Moncton wins their seventh in a row.
Regina Pats 2 @ Red Deer Rebels 3
RW Carter Ashton, REG: 1-0-1, -1, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 30 GP, 14-14-28, -11, 56 PIM
With Regina: 3 GP, 1-1-2, -3, 4 PIM
With Lethbridge: 28 GP, 13-13-26, -8, 52 PIM
Ashtonâ€™s first goal in a Pats uniform cut Red Deerâ€™s lead to 3-2 with four minutes remaining, but they couldnâ€™t complete the comeback.
An epic collapse.
NSH 6:53, Smithson 5 (Legwand, Ward)
TB 11:35, Stamkos 18 (Malone, Ohlund)
TB 16:30, Lecavalier 7 (Foster, St. Louis)(PP)
NSH 1:12, Legwand 7 (Ward)
NSH 2:57, Jones 3 (Spaling, Weber)
NSH 12:22, Hornqvist 8 (Goc)
NSH 12:50, Dumont 6 (Hornqvist)
NSH 16:09, Hamhuis 3 (Suter, Goc)
TB 1:52, Foster 4 (Lecavalier, St. Louis)(PP)
TB 12:20, Lecavalier 8 (Meszaros)
NSH 13:47, Erat 11 (Sullivan, Arnott)
The offense finally wakes up and scores 4 goals and then the defense and goaltending collapse. People, it's bad.
Zenon Konopka was -1 with 1 hit and was 75% on draws in 12:33.
Paul Szczechura had 2 shots and 1 hit in 15:59.
James Wright was -3 with 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 14:25.
Blair Jones was also -3 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 14:59.
Victor Hedman was -2 with 2 penalty minutes and 1 blocked shot in 13:23.
Saint John Sea Dogs 3 @ Moncton Wildcats 7
D Mark Barberio, MCT: 1-0-1, +3, 0 PIM, 7 SOG
Season Totals: 31 GP, 3-22-25, +10, 32 PIM
A huge win as Barberio (pictured) and Moncton broke the Sea Dogsâ€™ 22-game winning streak â€“ the third longest in QMJHL history. Barberioâ€™s seven shots on goal led the Wildcats. PEI native Randy Cameron (Red Wings 5/2007) had five points for Moncton.
Kitchener Rangers 5 @ Windsor Spitfires 2
C Richard Panik, WSR: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 33 GP, 9-9-18, +15, 19 PIM
Windsorâ€™s 24-game streak without a regulation loss came to a crashing halt Sunday, and at home no less. Rangers goaltender Mavric Parks (undrafted) stopped 46 shots to earn First Star honors. Panik will now join Team Slovakia for their WJC camp. Windsor Forwards Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, and Greg Nemisz, along with defensemen Ryan Ellis and Cam Fowler were all out of the line-up for this game, either attending their WJC camps or preparing for camps.
Oshawa Generals 4 @ Brampton Battalion 3 (SO)
G Michael Zador, OSH: Did not play.
Season Totals: 24 GP, 11-9-2-1, 3.25 GAA, .901 sv%, 1 SO
Zador did not play for the second straight game. He has not lost in regulation since November 15 (seven games).
I'm hard pressed to remember an offensive effort that pathetic.
Antero Niittymaki allowed 4 goals on 29 shots. The goal he allowed at the end of the second period was painfully soft and essentially ended the game. He also tried to allow another softie late in the third that he barely swept off the line. It was not a strong performance, although the Lightning weren't much of a threat to Chicago all game long, so it didn't really matter.
CHI 7:42, Kane 10 (Keith)
CHI 10:42, Eager 2 (Hossa, Sopel)
CHI 19:44, Hossa 4 (Sharp, Seabrook)
CHI 6:01, Toews 9 (Byfuglien, Seabrook)
18 shots on goal. How does an NHL team with this kind of offensive talent allow itself to be held to 18 shots on goal? Vincent Lecavalier (-3, 1 shot on goal) still is doing nothing on the forecheck around the opposition cage, which is where he showed he was an elite player. His failures are helping to drag down Martin St. Louis. Alex Tanguay has been lost all season. Steven Stamkos has forgotten about the necessity of shooting the puck (2 shots), and that's hurt Ryan Malone because he's the type of guy who hops on rebounds and excels in scrums around the cage.
The power play is a joke right now. They don't surround loose pucks and win one on one battles. They don't make smart, short passes to loosen up the opposing PK. They labor trying to free up Kurtis Foster for his shot and have forgotten they have lethal options like Vincent Lecavalier around the circles and Steven Stamkos around the circles and in the slot.
It's bad. This is a team that is fundamentally awful offensively right now. When Stephane Veilleux is the best player on the ice on a team with this roster, that also suggests a lack of effort, too.
Zenon Konopka had 5 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and was 33% on draws in 7:45.
Paul Szczechura had 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 15:36.
James Wright was -1 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 12:55.
Victor Hedman was -2 with 4 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 blocked shot in 19:05. His poor decision on the Blackhawks second goal was terrible, and that was a very deflating goal for the Lightning. That's a mistake that cannot happen.