First, my impressions of Smitty and Ritola.
Smitty faced 29 shots, saving them all, earning the night's first star in the process. He looked comfortable in net, though he had several instances where the Smitty that we all had grown to dread appeared. He never looked really tested greatly, but was interesting to note is his apparent personal disTance from his teammates. He still wore his Lightning-issued uniform shorts under his leg pads, a detail that didn't escape un-noticed by several fans around me. Additionally, he was the first player off the ice as warm-ups ended, beating the next Admirals player into the locker room by a couple of minutes. Overall, despite getting a shut-out, it appeared to me Smitty doesn't care to be in Norfolk, and didn't make an attempt to talk to any Admirals players at any length.
My impressions of Ritola were different. He was easily the best player on the ice for both teams. He, made several nifty moves entering and carrying the puck low into the OZ. In one play, he avoided a Crunch defenseman's poke check by flipping the puck up in the air, drawing a Crunch high-sticking penalty as a result. He was obviously the target on the PP and was one of the reasons the PP was not overly successful on the night. Nevertheless, I felt Ritola deserved a goal on he night, but instead had to settle for two assists in a very active night for him.
As the the overall game, it was a game in which the Crunch never really looked competitive. The Admirals ran most of the flow of play, with several good defense plays in the Norfolk zone. Most of the aforementioned Crunch shots came on several Admirals penalties, and a couple of instances of 4-on-4.
Scoring opened on a SHG by Admirals captain Chris Durno. As he forechecked aggressively, he intercepted a pass between Crunch defensemen and wrested a shot past the Crunch goalie before he could get set. The second Admirals goal was scored by Stefano Giliati scoring from the "dirty area" in front of the Crunch net. The third goal was set up by Ritola beautifully. Troy Milam passed the puck from the right point to Ritola, positioned low in the right face-off circle. Ritola quickly passed the puck--very nearly a one-time pass it was so quickly made--straight across the crease paint right on to Marc-Antoine Pouliot's stick blade for an easy tap-in.
It really was an enjoyable game from all perspectives. One item of note: on fan mentioned to me that when the Admirals make the playoffs this year, it will be the first time the Lightning will have an AHL affiliate in the playoffs. Interesting.