Dustin Tokarski stopped all 24 shots he faced for the shutout win. He also stopped a Robert Bortuzzo penalty shot in the third period to keep the bagel on his plate.
Tokarski tied his professional high of 4 shutouts and raised his season save percentage to .906 with the effort. He's 4-1-0 so far this month with 2 shutouts, a 1.60 GAA, and a .938 save percentage. The young man's known for being clutch, and now that the stretch run is starting, it appears Tic Time is, too.
NOR Smith, (20) (Gudas), 0:59 (SH)
NOR Palat, (4) (Cote, Johnson), 17:51
NOR Labrie, (11) (Panik, Palat), 12:57
NOR Johnson, (17) (Barberio, Kostka), 14:38 (PP)
Carter Ashton was stopped by Scott Munroe on a penalty shot of his own in the second period.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie extended his point streak to 6 games, with 4 goals and 7 points over that span. "Nacho" bested his pro career high of 26 points, set last season, with his 27th point on the goal.
With his 1 goal and 1 assist night, Tyler Johnson very quietly moved within 1 goal and 1 point of catching fellow rookie Ashton in those statistical categories. Perhaps Bolt Prospects co-founder Tim Bennett is right that TJ's being unfairly lost in the shuffle this season.
Panik attack, y'all.
Norfolk outshot Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 33-24 in the contest.
I want you all to take in the full scope of what the Admirals accomplished tonight. With a tie for first in the East Division on the line, they went into the Penguins' barn and didn't just beat them. No, they humiliated them. They beat them up (35 minutes in penalties for the Ads including 3 fighting majors and 6 roughing minors). They shut them down. They lit them up. There's no silver linings for the Penguins in this game, other than the fact that their 1 game in hand on Norfolk still allows them to be listed as the division leader in the standings.
Norfolk and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton are tied at 65 points atop the East Division, each 5 points back of conference leading St. John's. Hershey lurks just 1 point back of the Ads and Pens. Norfolk's 31 wins are third in the AHL behind only Oklahoma City and St. John's, which both have 32. Norfolk returns home on Friday to face Syracuse for a 2 game set. The Crunch are 2 games under .500 and a very distant 4th in the East Division standings.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 3 goals on 22 shots for the loss.
HER Potulny, (14) (Bourque, Aucoin), 3:56 (PP)
NOR Johnson, (15) (Panik, Conacher), 8:46 (PP)
HER Potulny, (15) (Bourque, Aucoin), 18:44 (PP)
NOR Conacher, (25) (Johnson, Dimmen), 18:59
HER Hanson, (9) (Ford), 1:14
Norfolk outshot Hershey 40-22, but as has been the case seemingly about a half dozen times over the years, just when the Ads look ready to make their move and establish themselves as the better team, Holtby or one of the other Caps prospect goaltenders stands on their heads. Holding that team, as explosive as it is, to 22 shots is unheard of. To play that well and still lose hurts badly.
And the Panik attack continues. In the last 16 games, Richard Panik has 6 goals and 13 points and he's now riding a 5 game point streak. It's not quite as impressive as Carter Ashton's ridiculous 11 goals and 17 points in the first 16 games this year, but it's in the ballpark (upper deck, perhaps, but in the ballpark).
Monday night is the AHL All-Star Game and the Admirals will return to action next Friday against Adirondack. Fortunately, the Penguins got spanked by Binghamton, so they pull into the break just 3 points back in the division despite the loss to the Bears.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Labrie is Superman.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 1 goal on 30 shots for the victory.
NOR Ashton, (17) (Kostka, Panik), 11:32
HER Micflikier, (19) (Eakin), 6:30
NOR Labrie, (7) (Smith, Conacher), 10:04
Labrie got off the plane, then got into a phone booth to put on his cape and score the game winning goal. There's not many tough guys who could do what he did: play a strong 2-way game in a 4th line role in Tampa and then turn around and go play on a top line and score the winning goal down in the AHL. This guy's not going away. He's not a flash in the pan.
Mark it down: 1/27/12 was the day Panik got back to 0.50 points per game. Panik attack, ya'll.
Norfolk's win ties them with Hershey at 55 points, but they're now 3 points behind the suddenly surging Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. On the one hand, playing in this division makes it extremely tough to get a high seed, which is tough on Norfolk. On the other hand, though, they'll be a lot more battle tested come the postseason having played more games against quality opposition.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
When Slovakians attack...
Jaroslav Janus allowed 1 goal on 26 shots and stopped 9 of 10 in the penalty shot session for the win. He came into the game in relief of Dustin Tokarski who unceremoniously allowed all 3 shots he faced into the net before getting the hook.
NOR Johnson, (14) (Ashton, Conacher), 0:39
CT Deveaux, (12) (Newbury, Christensen), 1:26 (PP)
CT Tanski, (3) (Tessier), 3:49
CT Bourque, (3) (Tessier, Parlett), 6:33
NOR Palat, (3) , 3:58
NOR Ashton, (16) (Panik, Jackson), 6:10
NOR Conacher, (24) (Kostka), 6:28 (PP)
CT Tanski, (4) (Grant, Owens), 8:13
Richard Panik was the first star of the game. He assisted Carter Ashton on the goal to tie the game at 3-3, got cheap shotted by Aaron Voros shortly thereafter, but got his revenge with the tenth round shootout winner. I'm rather shocked Janus didn't get a star, but both he and his countryman Panik were very worthy tonight. In his last 10 games, the AHL is feeling the Panik attack to the tune of 5 goals and 9 points.
For those wondering, although not 100%, Mark Barberio did dress and play tonight. I'm not the official BP Tweetmeister, but if I were: #goodnewsforachange
Norfolk's trip to the pay window moves them to within 2 points of Hershey in the division with the Bears holding a game in hand. Norfolk draws Charlotte at Scope on Tuesday night. The Checkers have been one of the best teams in the Western Conference (don't ask) this season, so Norfolk will have their work cut out for them.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
It's sad to think with 40 games left to play the season may already be effectively over.
CAR Ruutu (15), (Staal, Tlusty), 3:27
CAR Tlusty (8), (Staal), 4:41
TB Thompson (4), (unassisted), 14:36
CAR Harrison (6), (Ruutu, Faulk), 15:10
CAR Tlusty (9), (Staal, Ruutu), 16:18
TB Purcell (8), (Gervais, Stamkos), 2:49
CAR Brent (5), (Stewart, Harrison), 13:41
It's time for Steve Yzerman to throw the switch and to begin working the phones as a seller. If there was a team in the NHL I could've hand picked for the Lightning to get a win tonight, it would've been the Carolina Hurricanes. Even in their darkest hours, the Lightning have always seemed to torment Carolina. To get blown out 5-2 at home by a club they've effectively owned is a pretty prominent red flag that indicates the comeback in the standings isn't coming.
There are a lot of veterans on this team that will be unrestricted free agents who shouldn't be back next season that should be converted into draft picks and mid-level prospects. There's still more players that the Lightning need to make a decision about, because there are passengers on this roster. Not everyone is taking a beating like Steve Downie to try to win hockey games, and those players deserve scrutiny.
Last, it's time for some youth. It's time to give Brett Connolly more ice time. It's time to give a look to guys like Carter Ashton and Mark Barberio who are currently in the minors. The 2012-2013 season begins now, and the next 40 games should be devoted to finding a mix for next season that can go out and get this Lightning team back to the elite status we thought they were headed toward at the end of last season.
Connolly had 2 shots and 1 hit in 9:44. He's been in the 9-10 minute range since returning to the team from the WJC's. The way I see it, he needs to be playing with Stamkos and/or Lecavalier the next 40 games on a scoring line. Prepare him for next season. And, if he plays well, he'll make certain guys who aren't carrying their weight as alleged scoring threats even more expendable.