Mike Kostka and Tyler Johnson had a goal and an assist each, and Dustin Tokarski made 27 saves, as the Norfolk Admirals defeated the Connecticut Whale, 4-1, Friday night at Scope Arena in Game Two of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series.
The best-of-seven series is now even at one game apiece.
Penalties hurt the Whale in their first postseason loss in five games, as Norfolk was 2-for-11 on the power play. The Whale were 1-for-7 on the man advantage, as Andre Deveaux scored the only Connecticut goal of the game on a second-period power play. Cam Talbot absorbed his first playoff loss in the Whale goal, despite making 36 saves.
The Whale generated numerous chances in the first period but could not beat Tokarski, and the Admirals would bury a pair of opportunities at the other end.
Alex Killorn gave Norfolk the game’s first lead at the 3:00 mark, after a good forecheck by defenseman Keith Aulie worked the puck loose. Pierre-Cedric Labrie centered to Killorn, who snapped the puck past Talbot.
After furious Whale power-play pressure was fought off by Tokarski, Kostka scored a second Admiral goal at 17:44. Alexandre Picard, who had served three minor penalties in the period, threaded a pass from the right-wing side across the slot to the defenseman Kostka, whose low shot beat Talbot.
The two teams then traded power-play goals in the second frame, starting at 9:02 when Deveaux, a 20-goals-scorer in the regular season got his first of the playoffs off of a goalmouth scramble. A Deveaux pass went off of Marek Hrivik’s skate and into the goal crease. Kelsey Tessier, who was going hard towards the goal, was knocked down into the net, and Deveaux found the loose puck and poked it in.
Norfolk replied on a five-on-three, however, after Kris Newbury took a cross-checking penalty at the 15-minute mark with Wade Redden already in the box for roughing. Johnson had a pass from the left side of the goalmouth blocked, but the puck went off of a Whale defender right back to Johnson, and his shot just eluded a diving Talbot for a 3-1 Norfolk advantage.
The Admiral man advantage unit struck again at 4:41 of the third period to create the final margin, after a tripping call against Newbury at 3:40.
The best-of-seven series now switches to the XL Center in Hartford for Games Three and Four, which will be this Sunday and Monday with faceoff at 7:00 ET both nights (AHL Live). Tickets for Games Three and Four are on sale now at the Public Power Ticket Office at the XL Center, as well as on-line at www.ctwhale.com and through TicketMaster Charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000.