AHL Game Day: 2/27/11 Admirals at River Rats

Norfolk comes from behind for its biggest win of the season.

NOR-4
ALB-3

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.

First Period
NOR Milam, (11) (Ritola, Barberio), 9:07 (PP)
NOR Barberio, (7) (Ritola, Harju), 10:28 (PP)
ALB Henrique, (19) (Zalewski, Anderson), 16:04

Second Period
ALB Leach, (2) (Magnan, Anderson), 5:28
ALB Anderson, (18) (Henrique, Zalewski), 16:41 (PP)

Third Period
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.