Etem’s heroics lift Norfolk

( — Emerson Etem tied the game with 33 seconds remaining in regulation and won it six seconds into overtime as the Norfolk Admirals (13-13-1-0) defeated the Albany Devils (9-10-1-6), 2-1, on Saturday night at Norfolk Scope Arena. (Boxscore)

The win moved the Admirals back to .500 on the season.

Norfolk’s Igor Bobkov (6-7-0) and Albany’s Keith Kinkaid (6-7-3) traded saves for over two periods before either team found the back of the net. Bobkov stopped 25 of 26 shots to earn the win and Kinkaid stopped the first 34 Norfolk shots before Etem’s last two shots found the twine behind the Albany netminder.

After a scoreless opening two periods, the Devils got on the board 4:42 into the third period. Steve Zalewski sent a pass from behind the goal line to reigning CCM/AHL Player of the Week Bobby Butler. After getting around a Norfolk defender in the low slot, Butler sent a backhand shot over Bobkov’s right shoulder for a 1-0 Albany lead.

The game remained 1-0 in favor of the Devils until the final minute of regulation. Admirals head coach Trent Yawney pulled Bobkov out of the net in favor of an extra attacker, giving Norfolk a 6-on-5 skater advantage.

The game-tying play began after Rod Pelley won his fourth consecutive offensive-zone faceoff. Sami Vatanen sent the puck behind the Albany net to Patrick Maroon. Maroon’s first centering attempt ricocheted back to him; however, his second pass found Etem in the low slot for a one-timer that tied the game at 19:27.

On the opening faceoff of overtime, Peter Holland pushed the puck forward toward the Albany blue line. Etem picked up the puck and sped past an Albany defender for a partial breakaway. He held the puck on his backhand until almost to the goalmouth, when he moved to his forehand and tucked a shot around a diving Kinkaid’s right side and into the net.

Norfolk was 0-for-2 on the power play. Albany was 0-for-4.

NOTES … Etem’s goal six seconds into overtime was the fastest to start any period in AHL Admirals history, beating Casey Hankinson’s goal seven seconds into the second period on November 10, 2000, against the Saint John Flames at Scope … Igor Bobkov has gone 3-1-0 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .938 save percentage in December … Bobkov has improved his season record from 3-6-0 with a 3.99 GAA and .886 SV% at the end of November to 6-7-0 record with a 3.29 GAA and .903 SV% now … Norfolk improved to 6-2-1-0 in its nine December games … The Admirals have allowed only 17 goals in nine games in December (1.89 goals against per game) … Norfolk has killed 50 of 54 opponent power plays in December (92.6%) … The Admirals did not allow a power play goal to Albany on 14 chances over the two-game set at Scope … Norfolk is now 3-0-0-0 through three of four games against the Devils in 2012-13. The final game of the regular season series will be played on April 20, 2013, at Albany – Norfolk’s second-to-last game of the regular season.