NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The Norfolk Admirals relinquished a goal in the eighth round of the shootout Friday night and lost to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 2-1 at Scope. Despite the loss, Norfolk earns three of four points on the weekend against the Penguins.
In the first, the Admirals were mostly pinned back defending their own net. The Penguins produced many of their scoring opportunities off Norfolk miscues in the defensive zone.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Brendan Mikkelson gathered a loose puck before testing Admirals’ goalie Brad Thiessen from the top of the right circle. Thiessen made the initial save but surrendered a rebound that was stuffed through his legs by Mike Carman. The Penguins scored first at 12:27 into the opening frame and brought that lead to the second period.
With 10 minutes to go in the second, the Admirals trailed the Penguins in shots, 21 to 8. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton continued to play in the Norfolk zone for much of the period until the Admirals turned the tide halfway through and eventually found an answer.
Defenseman Sami Vatanen collected a faceoff at the blue line and threw it towards Penguin netminder Eric Hartzell. Hartzell fought off Vatanen’s knuckler, but shielded it to an awaiting Devante Smith-Pelly. Smith-Pelly, standing on the doorstep, quickly wristed the rebound into the roof of the net to bring the Admirals even with only eight seconds left in the frame.
Norfolk rattled off eight straight shots in the latter half of the second and sustained that shot streak to 17 before the Penguins could again test Thiessen with just over 10 minutes to go in the third.
Neither side could find the winner in regulation or in overtime, calling for a shootout to decide the contest.
It took eight shootout rounds for a puck to reach the back of the net. The Penguins’ Tom Kuhnhackl snapped a wrister past Thiessen to give the Penguins the edge, while Norfolk’s Alex Grant failed to beat Hartzell on the other end, which sealed it for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 2-1.
Hartzell continued his stellar performance in the shootout with eight saves, and finished the game with 33 stops on the night. Thiessen made 25 saves in his fourth start as an Admiral, including two big ones in the early going to keep the Penguins off the board.
The Admirals (22-13-1-7, 52pts) and Penguins (25-13-1-3, 54pts) still trail first place Binghamton (55pts) in a tight East Division race.