Norfolk clings to 4th in the East Division by the slimmest of margins.
Jaroslav Janus shined making 42 saves in the overtime loss. He's allowed just 5 goals on 86 shots (.953 sv%) since spelling Dustin Tokarski against Hershey when Tic got cut with a skate. All of a sudden, he's playing under control and serving notice to the new organization why the old organization was so high on him. He's also finally justifying that #11 ranking he currently holds here on BoltProspects.
BNG Benoit, (11) (Daugavins, Smith), 11:46 (PP)
NOR Ritola, (8) (Jones, Mihalik), 16:01
BNG O'Brien, (24) (Condra, Greening), 3:48
Janus was the game's third star.
Blair Jones has points in 9 straight games. Mattias Ritola has points in 7 straight and 8 goals and 17 points over that span, including 6 multi-point games. Tonight was the first time since 2/26/11 that Ritola didn't have a multi-point effort.
Norfolk climbs to within 2 points of 3rd place Charlotte with 1 game in hand on the Checkers. They also now hold a slim 1 point lead over the 5th place Senators with 1 game in hand on Binghamton. If a crossover scenario were to occur, Norfolk could get the 3rd seed in the Atlantic Division if they finish with more points than the 3rd place Connecticut Whale. They now have a 5 point lead on Connecticut with 3 games left to go for each club, so they could easily clinch no worse than the 3 seed in the Atlantic in their upcoming games against the East Division's 6th place team, Syracuse.
Norfolk draws Syracuse tomorrow night and again on Saturday night before closing out the regular season on Sunday in Hartford against the Whale. Charlotte draws the now eliminated Worcester Sharks on Friday and again on Saturday. Binghamton goes to Rochester (7th in the North Division) on Friday and finishes at home against Adirondack (7th in the East Division) on Saturday. So, Norfolk likely will need 4 out of 6 possible points to hold off Binghamton for 4th, and they may need to run the table and hope Worcester can take at least a point away from Charlotte to get to 3rd place. 2 more points earned or lost by Connecticut will clinch no worse than the 3 seed in the Atlantic via the crossover. In that scenario, Norfolk would face Manchester. Unfortunately for Norfolk, their three most likely matchups (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Hershey, or Manchester) happen to be the 3 best defensive teams in the Eastern Conference in terms of goals allowed. Great.
Box score and extended statistics from NHL.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.
South Carolina Stingrays 1 @ Florida Everblades 4
LW Alex Hutchings: 1-0-1, +1, 4 PIM (spearing attempt), 4 SOG
Season totals: 48 GP, 13-13-26, -9, 37 PIM
G Jaroslav Janus: Did not play (backup)
Season totals: 27 GP, 12-13-0-0, 3.06 GAA, .912 sv%, 0 SO
The â€˜Blades pulled ahead of South Carolina and Wheeling for fourth in the East after beating the Stingrays 4-1 in the first game of a three game set to finish the regular season. Itâ€™s possible these teams could play 10 games in a row as they could be meeting each other in the first round of the playoffs. South Carolina is currently in sixth, but just two points behind Florida and one behind Wheeling. All have played 70 games. Alex Hutchings scored his 13th goal of the season then ignited a brawl of sorts after the play by attempting to spear an opponent. Jarsolav Janus sat backup to Mike Zacharias (34/35) in his latest return to the ECHL from Norfolk.
The Norfolk Admirals have signed goaltender Pat Nagle to an Amateur Tryout Contract (ATO), Admirals General Manager Julien BriseBois announced today. In addition, the Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL parent club of the Admirals, have reassigned goaltender Jaroslav Janus (YAHR-oh-slahv YAHN-ihs) from the Admirals to the ECHLâ€™s Florida Everblades, Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced today.
Nagle, 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning last week. He played in 37 games with the Ferris State (Mich.) Bulldogs this season, posting an 18-14-5 record with a 2.02 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage. He ranked fifth in NCAA Division-1 in GAA, tied for ninth for shutouts with three and tied for 10th in save percentage. Nagle also set school records for GAA and was tied for second in save percentage.