Norfolk Admirals #9 Alexandre Picard going around a St. John's IceCap during Game 1 of the AHL Eastern Conference Final in Norfolk, Virginia. (Taken by John Wright, and originially posted on the AHL's Facebook Eastern Conference Final album)
Richard Panik opened up the scoring early. Very early. We're talking 51 seconds into the game type of early.
He also had what might've been another goal three minutes after that, but it was waved off. It was determined that the puck hit a post and didn't go in, so it was not reviewed. However, from where I was sitting, I never heard the clang of frozen rubber hitting iron.
The Norfolk Admirals came out of the gate strong. They dominated much of the first period and forced the St. John's IceCaps into icing the puck four times the first half of the period. They also managed to stay out of the penalty box for the first half of the period as well.
They ended up taking three penalties in the last seven minutes of the first. They even had a 30-second 5-on-3 penalty kill. During which, Dustin Tokarski made an outstanding save at literally the last second of the period.
The 5-on-3 lasted only two seconds at the start of the second period. Not sure if that was enough to drag down the team a bit or not, but they did not start the second period well. Tokarski let in a goal that he probably should've had almost two minutes into the period, and they didn't have their first shot of the second until 5:37. It wasn't that they didn't have any jump, just that they were back on their heels a bit.
After the first shot of the second, things picked up for the Admirals. They started getting back into that dominating first period form. After Alexandre Picard scored with a little less than five minutes to go in the second, giving the team the lead again, and they were back to buzzing. Most of the second period was nothing like the first for Norfolk, however.
The third period was nothing to write home about for either team. They both looked a bit tired, and the ice wasn't very good due to a university graduation that had taken place in the arena earlier that day. The Admirals fell back into the 1-3-1 late in the third to help protect their lead, and they sealed the deal on an empty net goal by Picard with less than a minute left.
Despite that one goal early in the second, Tokarski had a very solid game. He stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced, and he made some spectacular saves. He definitely earned his second star of the game, just as Picard was very worthy of the first star - he is now the leading goal scorer and points getter in AHL playoffs.
Evan Oberg had a great game as well, which is something that probably wouldn't show up on the scoresheet. He stopped everyone that got in his way. His defensive partner, Mark Barberio, was just as strong defensively as he was.
Mike Angelidis and Trevor Smith also had some great chances to score. Picard, Smith, Cory Conacher, and Mike Kostka each had four shots on goal, out of the 38 total shots for the team. Alex Killorn was back in the lineup after missing Game 1, and while he played well, he wasn't exactly up to his normal speed.
The final score was 3-1 Norfolk over St. John's. The Admirals are now up 2-0 in this best of seven series. Game 3 is today at 6 pm Eastern, as Newfoundland Time is an hour and a half ahead of Eastern Time.