Well, at least Harju got off the schnide.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 5 goals on 31 shots in his first game back from his date with a skate blade for the loss. He did stop a penalty shot in the game.
NOR Harju, (22) (Szczechura), 11:04
SYR Palmieri, (29) (Schofield), 2:17 (PP)
NOR Berry, (14) (Roy), 7:39
SYR Macenauer, (13) (Green, Clark), 7:55
SYR Green, (15) (Deschamps), 10:05 (SH)
SYR Deschamps, (15) (Green), 11:45 (SH)
NOR Harju, (23) (Jones, Barberio), 6:52
SYR Maroon, (26) (Holland, Guenin), 10:48 (PP)
NOR Vernace, (7) (Milam, Harju), 14:46
Johan Harju was the game's second star.
With an assist tonight, Mark Barberio made it to the 30 point plateau. Not a bad rookie season for the young man.
Good news/bad news: Charlotte won, so 3rd place in the East Division is out of the question. Binghamton lost, though, so if Norfolk wins tomorrow, they can climb to 4th in the East Division. More interesting, Connecticut lost, so Norfolk has clinched not worse than the #3 seed in the Atlantic Division via the crossover. They play Connecticut tomorrow night, and they now have two potential matchups: win and they get the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (and their .728 winning percentage). Lose and they draw the Manchester Monarchs (and their .620 winning percentage). Yes, the crossover rule is the dumbest in professional sports, and the only reason it's not an outrage to me is that I consider it only fair seeing how Norfolk was jobbed out of playoff spot last season by it. Not to be a conspiracy theorist, and Manchester is certainly no pushover, but perhaps the egg the Admirals laid in Syracuse over the past three nights had a silver lining?
Box score from TheAHL.com.
A magical night in Charlotte for Jones and the Admirals.
Jaroslav Janus rose up and played his best AHL game of the season stopping 21 of 23 shots, including a Brett Sutter penalty shot, to take his first win as an Admiral this season. He kept the Admirals where they needed to be through the first two periods and then made sure to make the last stop or two the team needed to pull away at the end. What Mike Smith was for the Lightning against Chicago last night, Janus was for the Admirals tonight.
NOR Ritola, (6) (Pouliot, Barberio), 7:54 (PP)
CHA Terry, (33) (Sanguinetti, Matsumoto), 12:30 (PP)
NOR Labrie, (6) (Wright, Berry), 7:56
CHA Sanguinetti, (3) (Graham, Matsumoto), 13:18 (PP)
NOR Jones, (22) (Pouliot, Milam), 18:49 (PP)
NOR Ritola, (7) (Jones, Pouliot), 0:36 (PP)
NOR Jones, (23) (Ritola), 7:40
Blair Jones is now the Norfolk Admirals' all-time leading scorer. He tied and then destroyed the record with a 3 point night that now leaves him just 3 points shy of his career high in points, despite the fact he set that mark in 80 games in 2008-2009 and he's played just 52 games this year. Jones has always been a BoltProspects favorite since his days with Moose Jaw and his rookie season with Springfield in the AHL. Through all the ups and downs of his professional career, he's kept getting better and climbing the ladder. To surpass some of the most beloved Admirals in the history of that franchise to claim the mantle of leading scorer is truly impressive and special.
His new line, with Marc-Antoine Pouliot and Mattias Ritola showed tonight it could be one of the league's best going into the playoffs. Ritola also had a 3 point night and now has 22 points in 13 AHL games this year. For his part, Pouliot climbed to 6th in the AHL in scoring with 69 points in 65 games.
Mark Barberio got point 29 tonight. He needs 1 more point in the 4 games remaining this week to reach the 30 point plateau.
Norfolk pulls to within 3 points of the Checkers for 3rd in the East Division with 2 games in hand, and now holds a 2 point edge over Binghamton with 1 game in hand. More to the point, the Admirals magic number for making the postseason is now 1 point. With a 6 point lead over Worcester and just 3 games remaining for the Sharks, any combination of a point gained by the Admirals or a point lost by Worcester will clinch a playoff berth for the Admirals by, at a minimum, the crossover rule. Interesting note about the crossover rule, if Norfolk were to crossover they could gain the 3rd seed in the Atlantic Division if they can continue to lead the Atlantic's 3rd place team, the Connecticut Whale. However, for tonight, the crossover seems like an afterthought for a team that controls its destiny to climb into the #3 spot in the division.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Big trouble in Norfolk.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 4 goals on 16 shots before leaving the game with an injury. With Cedrick Desjardins likely shelved for the rest of the season, any kind of injury to Tic is a big, big problem. The early indication is that Tokarski had his chin sliced open with a skate blade. So, you'd think he should be back, but considerably more ugly, for the road trip.
Jaroslav Janus allowed 1 goal on 14 shots for the hard luck loss. It was, by far and away, Janus' best performance of the season, and he may inherit the starter's job if Tokarski is out for any length of time.
HER Greentree, (29) (McNeill, Fahey), 0:59
NOR Ritola, (5) (Pouliot, Barberio), 3:56
NOR Pouliot, (22) (Jones, Ritola), 6:09 (PP)
NOR Pouliot, (23) (Ritola, Milam), 18:53 (PP)
NOR Durno, (19) , 19:17
HER Bouchard, (12) (Souray), 2:33
HER Greentree, (30) (Aucoin, McNeill), 3:08 (PP)
HER McNeill, (7) (Perreault), 6:12
HER Gordon, (26) (Aucoin, Fahey), 17:34
Marc-Antoine Pouliot was the game's second star.
Mattias Ritola has 19 points in 12 AHL games this season. Classic case of being too good for the AHL but not quite good enough to stick in the NHL?
Radko Gudas is -9 since the calendar turned to 2011 and he has plummeted from a +20 rating to a +11 rating in a little over 3 months. With an assist tonight, the Lightning's other gifted young defenseman, Mark Barberio now has 28 points and is just 2 shy of the 30 point plateau.
Norfolk finishes their season 19-11-10 at home. There have 5 games remaining in the regular season, and all will be on the road.
Norfolk remains in 4th place in the East Division by 1 point thanks to a loss by Binghamton. The Ads still hold 1 game in hand on the Senators. Unfortunately, 3rd place Charlotte won to take a 5 point lead over the Admrials with Norfolk holding 2 games in hand. It's not impossible for Norfolk to catch the Checkers, but they have to win their next game in Charlotte to have any kind of legitimate chance. Honestly, though, I want no part of Hershey. I'd almost rather play Wilkes/Barre-Scranton or take the crossover into the Atlantic Division and play Portland or Manchester.
Norfolk's remaining schedule: at Charlotte on Monday, at Binghamton on Wednesday, at Syracuse next Friday and Saturday, and the season finale at Connecticut next Sunday. It's a brutal stretch of 5 road games in 7 nights, with uncertainty between the pipes because of injuries.
One bit of good news, with Worcester's 4-1 loss to Providence, the gap on the 4th place team in the Atlantic remained at 6 points. The Sharks have just 4 games remaining, so any combination of Norfolk points earned and Sharks points lost equal to 3 will officially clinch a playoff spot for the Admirals. But, right now, it feels like the team is backing into the playoffs, and that's not good.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Tic puts the forcefield up in the shootout.
Dustin Tokarski stopped 23 of 25 shots before beating all 5 Hershey shooters in the shootout for the victory. Tokarski improved to 19-15-4 on the season with 2 shutouts, a 2.41 GAA and .910 save percentage. It's expected that Cedrick Desjardins will see his first action back next weekend, but it should be kept in mind that Tokarski's GAA and save percentage are actually better than Desjardins' 2.56 GAA and .906 save percentage. Two good goaltenders = a good problem for Norfolk to have.
HER McNeill, (5) (Fahey, Perreault), 12:07 (PP)
NOR Berry, (13) (Giliati, Barberio), 8:19 (PP)
NOR Wright, (15) (Giliati, Barberio), 8:22 (PP)
HER Greentree, (25) (Kozek, Willsie), 9:29
Tokarski and Stefano Giliati were the game's first and second stars. Giliati made two great power play assists in the contest, and Mark Barberio also assisted on both power play goals. Barberio now has 2 goals and 4 points in the last 3 and has 26 points on the season. If he could get to 30 points this year, that'd be nice output for a rookie campaign. James Wright became the 8th Admiral to hit the 15 goal plateau this season with his goal. 8 forwards who can put the puck in the back of the net = another good problem for Norfolk to have. It'll be interesting to see how many Admirals can get to 20 goals by the end of the regular season.
Norfolk cashes in a game in hand a leaps 1 point ahead of Charlotte for 3rd place in the East Division with 1 game still in hand on the Checkers. They're also now 7 points back of Hershey with 3 games in hand and 2 more head-to-head matchups against the Bears at Scope left on the schedule. So, 2nd place remains in reach. Norfolk also expanded their lead over 5th place Binghamton back to 6 points and a 7 point lead over Worcester and Connecticut in the crossover. So, whereas the Lightning are fading a bit right now, Norfolk is starting to surge.
There are 14 games left in the regular season. Norfolk is off until next Friday and Saturday when Albany comes to town. Albany sits in 6th in the East Division at 6 games under .500, and it is expected Cedrick Desjardins will return to the crease in one of those games.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Norfolk comes from behind for its biggest win of the season.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 3 goals on 20 shots for the victory. It's not a good percentage for the game, but he does finish the month of February with a 4-1-2 mark, 1 shutout, a 2.06 GAA, and a .917 save percentage, which is more in line with the numbers he put up last season. He also evened his ledger up at 14-14-4 for the year.
NOR Milam, (11) (Ritola, Barberio), 9:07 (PP)
NOR Barberio, (7) (Ritola, Harju), 10:28 (PP)
ALB Henrique, (19) (Zalewski, Anderson), 16:04
ALB Leach, (2) (Magnan, Anderson), 5:28
ALB Anderson, (18) (Henrique, Zalewski), 16:41 (PP)
NOR Harju, (19) (Ritola, Barberio), 0:23 (PP)
NOR Jones, (18) (Milam, Harju), 4:39
Mark Barberio and Johan Harju were the game's first and third stars after guiding a shining Admirals performance on the power play. Barberio finished with 1 goal and 2 assists in the game, all on the power play. Barberio now has 7 goals and 22 points for the season, and today was his first 3 point game as a pro. Another game or so like that would really help him chase down that 30 point mark for the season. Harju, Norfolk's All-Star, now has 19 goals, which is 1 ahead of Blair Jones and 2 ahead of Marc-Antoine Pouliot for the team lead. The race is on to see who gets to 20 first, but it sure looks like all 3 will make it.
Today's win was very important in the standings. With Binghamton losing to Adirondack, Norfolk moved into a tie with the Senators at 71 points and the Admirals temporarily will hold the 4th spot in the division by virtue of a better winning percentage. The team also cashed in 1 of its games in hand on Charlotte and is now 5 points back of the 3rd place Checkers with 3 games still in hand. So, although I'm not sure I'd be thrilled about a first round series against Hershey, Norfolk is starting to get a handle again on their own destiny. In the crossover, Worcester won and Springfield lost, so the Sharks climbed to 3rd in the Atlantic Division and Springfield remains tied with Connecticut at 64 points. Norfolk holds a 7 point lead on both teams with 1 game in hand on the Whale and 2 games in hand on the Falcons. So, Norfolk appears to have arrested their slow recession with today's win and they're now 5-3-0-2 in their last 10 games.
There are 21 games remaining in the regular season and Norfolk moves on to play Hershey at home on Wednesday night. They'll be back in Albany on Friday, then in Hershey on Saturday, before a critical game in Binghamton on Sunday. It's a big week coming up for the Admirals. If they ran the table, they could cut the Bears' lead for 2nd in the division to not more than 5 points, although that's a big if. Norfolk should get goaltender Curtis McElhinney into the fold for the week, barring an unexpected waiver claim by another team. McElhinney hasn't seen AHL action since 2007-2008 with Quad City when he was 20-18-2 with 3 shutouts, a 2.28 GAA, and a .911 save percentage. He was outstanding in the AHL in 2006-2007 with the Omaha Knights where he had a phenomenal 35-17-1 record with 7 shutouts, a 2.13 GAA, and a .917 save percentage. So, he's been an excellent player in the AHL and he should bring a lot to the table for Norfolk down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Box score from TheAHL.com.