Desperate for a win against the AHL’s top team, the Connecticut Whale grabbed a 4-1 decision from the Norfolk Admirals on Monday night at the XL Center in Hartford.
The best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series is now even at two games apiece. Game 5, a Whale home game, will be played Wednesday night at Bridgeport’s Webster Bank Arena.
“I thought our team defense was real good tonight,” said Whale head coach Ken Gernander. “It was a big game for us to square the series and I thought we played very well tonight.”
Connecticut took a 1-0 lead late in the first period of Game 4 as Jonathan Audy-Marchessault entered the attacking zone with speed along the left wing and sent a wrist shot from the bottom of the faceoff circle that went between Dustin Tokarski’s legs at 19:05.
The Whale’s lead doubled early in the second period. Kelsey Tessier sent a shot that Tokarski sent into the left circle with his blocker. Scott Tanski found the rebound near the faceoff dot on his backhand, spun around to his forehand and sent a shot through traffic that eluded Tokarski at 3:56 for a 2-0 Whale lead.
Panik drew the visitors to within a goal of Connecticut 7:42 into the third period. Alex Killorn sent a pass through the neutral zone to Panik, who sped through the left wing of the Connecticut zone. Panik entered the slot and sent a shot over Whale goaltender Cam Talbot for his first professional playoff goal, which cut the Connecticut lead to 2-1.
However, the Whale restored their two-goal lead with less than four minutes remaining in regulation on a two-on-one play. Pavel Valentenko took the puck through the left wing and carried it past a sliding Norfolk defender before sending a pass across the slot. Casey Wellman tapped the feed past the left leg of Tokarski at 16:48.
The Whale iced the victory at 17:51 with a Kris Newbury empty-net goal.
Norfolk was 0-for-6 on the power play while Connecticut was 0-for-4.
Cameron Talbot (5-2) made 19 saves on 20 shots in the victory for the Whale. Tokarski (4-2) stopped 20 of 23 shots as Norfolk lost on the road for the first time in 17 games.
Tickets for Wednesday’s Game 5 in Bridgeport are available at the Webster Bank Arena box office, as well as on-line at
and through TicketMaster Charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000.