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Special teams drive Norfolk to victory

The Norfolk Admirals used two power-play goals and a perfect penalty kill to hold on to a 3-2 victory over the Manchester Monarchs in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Friday night at Norfolk Scope Arena.

The Admirals lead the best-of-five series, one game to none, with Game 2 set for Saturday night at Scope (7:15 ET, AHL Live).

Norfolk killed all seven Manchester power play opportunities – including two in the game’s final five minutes. Alexandre Picard and Trevor Smith scored power play goals for Norfolk while Mark Barberio scored at even strength. Jaroslav Janus (1-0) stopped 27 of 29 shots for his first career victory in the Calder Cup Playoffs. A crowd of 5,720 saw the contest at Scope, easily surpassing the previous AHL Admirals playoff record crowd of 4,324 from April 27, 2007.

Norfolk jumped out to an early lead with a goal from Barberio at 6:39 of the first period. Picard won a faceoff at the left circle directly back to Barberio at the left point. Already in a shooting stance, Barberio launched a slap shot past Manchester goalie Jeff Zatkoff‘s glove to make the score 1-0.

The second period would see two quick power play strikes from the Admirals. Picard made the score 2-0 after a series of passes between he, Smith and Cory Conacher. The AHL’s MVP started the passes from the right faceoff circle when he sent the puck to Smith in the right corner. Smith then passed to a streaking Picard in the slot, who one-timed the puck past Zatkoff at 1:42.

Within two minutes of the Picard goal, Smith beat Zatkoff to give Norfolk a 3-0 lead. The power play score began with a pass at the right point from Mike Kostka to Evan Oberg. Oberg took the puck at the left point and skated with it through the left circle. He threw the puck in front of the crease and the puck deflected off of Smith’s right skate into the net at 3:39.

This prompted a change in Manchester net with Martin Jones relieving Zatkoff. Jones would not allow another goal.

The Monarchs mounted a comeback attempt midway through the third period with a shorthanded goal. After forcing a turnover in the Manchester zone, Stefan Legein sent a shot from the right half wall past Jaroslav Janus into the bottom right corner of the net to cut Norfolk’s lead to 3-1.

Manchester’s third period surge continued with a goal by Marc-Andre Cliche at 13:57. Thomas Hickey fired a shot from the blue line into traffic. The shot deflected off Cliche and past Janus to bring the Monarchs within one goal.

With one minute remaining in regulation, Manchester pulled Jones from net to bring an extra skater on the ice. After a near empty netter by Norfolk, time expired and Manchester could not send the game into overtime.

Jaroslav Janus (1-0) turned aside 27 of 29 shots for his first AHL playoff victory. Jeff Zatkoff (0-1) stopped 10 of 13 shots for the loss through 23:24 of play. He was pulled after the third goal in favor of Martin Jones, who stopped all 19 shots he faced through 35:06 of relief.

Norfolk was 2-for-6 on the power play. Manchester was 0-for-7 with the man advantage.