I noted a few days ago that the Lightning are playing first-round playoff games against the Penguins on two levels: In the NHL and in the AHL with their minor league affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals, squaring off against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Last night was the opening game of the Ads/Pens playoff series, and Dustin Tokarski backstopped the Ads to their first playoff win since 2006-07. The Admirals beat the Pens 2-1, and Tokarski stopped 32 of 33 shots faced. Mattias Ritola and Marc-Antoine Pouliot scored the goals for the Admirals.
Game Two of the series will be tonight at 7:05 PM in Wilkes-Barre. Tokarski will likely get the start again for the Admirals, with Jaroslav Janus backing him up.
Oen other note from yesterday at the minor league level: Former Barrie Colt and current Lightning prospect Alex Hutchings, who spent his first professional season with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL, was promoted from the 'Blades to the to the Admirals.
The Admirals official recap of last night's action is below the fold.
Tokarski Leads Admirals to Win in Playoff Opener
NORFOLK ADMIRALS (2) at WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON PENGUINS (1)
WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, Penn. – Dustin Tokarski stopped 32 of 33 shots and the Admirals penalty kill stopped all six Wilkes-Barre/Scranton chances as the Norfolk Admirals defeated the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 2-1, on Friday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. The Admirals have taken a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven East Division Semifinals series.
Marc-Antoine Pouliot and Mattias Ritola scored in the second period to stake the Admirals to a 2-0 lead. The Penguins out-shot Norfolk 33-22 in the game.
After a scoreless opening period, Norfolk struck first 5:23 into the second stanza while the teams skated four-on-four. Troy Milam intercepted a pass in the neutral zone and sent the puck to Ritola. Ritola entered the zone along the left wing and sent a snap shot that went between the legs of Penguins goaltender Brad Thiessen for a 1-0 Admirals lead.
The lead doubled just over thirteen minutes later. Ritola had his back to then net at the right point and spun around to send a looping wrist shot through traffic. Pouliot tipped the shot past Thiessen at 18:27 to put the visitors ahead 2-0.
Tokarski stopped all 20 shots he faced through two periods and was very strong at the start of the third period as the Penguins had two power plays midway through the final frame.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton broke up Tokarski’s shutout bid and cut their deficit in half with only 2:47 left in regulation. Geoff Walker sent a shot from the right circle that Tokarski kicked away. However, Keven Veilleux found the rebound and stashed a shot past Tokarski’s right leg to cut Norfolk’s lead to 2-1.
However, Tokarski and the Admirals thwarted any further Penguin scoring chances and held on for the 2-1 victory.
Dustin Tokarski (33 shots, 32 saves) earned the victory in his professional playoff debut. Brad Thiessen (22 shots, 20 saves) took the loss.
Norfolk was 0-3 on the power play. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was 0-6.
Game Two is tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m. from the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Fans can watch the game via AHL Live at Baxter’s Sports Lounge. Follow all of the action at 102.1-FM and 1490-AM The Game, 1021TheGame.com and ahllive.com.
The series shifts to Norfolk for Games Three, Four and Five (if necessary) on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday next week. Individual playoff tickets range in price from $13.00 - $18.00 when purchased in advance of the day of a game. Students through high school, active military with valid identification and senior citizens receive $1 off single game tickets at the Scope Box Office. Group discounts are also available when purchased in advance through the Admirals group sales office.