Sometime after the Lightning's drubbing of the Pittsburgh Penguins this afternoon, the Norfolk Admirals and Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins tangoed once again in AHL playoff action. While the Ads had jumped out to a 2-0 series lead, and came back tonight after falling in a 3-0 hole early, they dropped tonight's game 6-3, their foruth straight loss, and the overall series to the Baby Penguins.
We have the press-release recap of the game below the jump, and I don't want to dismiss the Admirals and the closing of a great season, but there is an aspect of the loss that the Tampa Bay Lightning can directly contemplate now: Who do they promote to the NHL to serve as black aces for their own game six contest on Monday (and hopefully for game n, and later rounds of the playoffs)?
Black aces, to explain, is just a nickname for taxi squad players / guys who won't play during the playoffs. Being part of a taxi squad in the playoffs is both a reward and a just-in-case logistics move, should injuries happen on the big club and what not.
Don't be surprised to hear of call-ups in the next 24 hours, starting with (perhaps) Blair Jones and Mattias Ritola, with others included.
At any rate, I do want to congratulate the Admirals on a great season. Hopefully, next season, there will be more depth to push the Ads further in the playoffs.
Admirals Fall in Game Six, Lose Series to Penguins
NORFOLK ADMIRALS (3) at WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON PENGUINS (6)
WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, Penn. – James Wright’s power play goal with under ten minutes left in regulation closed the gap to one goal, but the Norfolk Admirals ultimately could not complete a comeback from a 3-0 deficit and fell to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 6-3, in Game Six of the East Division Semifinals on Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. The Penguins won the series, four games to two.
Marc-Antoine Pouliot, Blair Jones and Wright scored for Norfolk while Dustin Tokarski stopped 23 of 27 shots in defeat.
The Penguins went ahead 3-0 after twenty minutes of play on Steve Wagner’s natural hat trick. Corey Potter sent a shot from the high slot that Wagner tipped for a power play goal just 2:13 into the game. He netted a second power play goal at 3:58. He then sent a slap shot from the high point through traffic with 1:24 remaining in the first period to complete the natural hat trick.
The Admirals’ comeback bid began with 6:42 remaining in the second period. Mattias Ritola sent a feed from the left circle towards the slot. Pouliot, who had been speeding through the slot, redirected the feed past goaltender Brad Thiessen for his team-leading fourth goal of the playoffs.
Norfolk drew to within one goal of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on another pass from Ritola less than two minutes later. This time, he fed the puck from behind the net to the left of Thiessen to Jones on the opposite side. Jones converted the feed into his first career pro playoff goal at 16:03.
The Penguins briefly restored their two-goal lead 7:23 into the third period when Joe Vitale converted a two-on-one feed from Tim Wallace.
Norfolk once again closed its gap to one goal just over three minutes later when James Wright stuffed home a Matt Fornataro rebound at for a power play goal at 10:35.
However, Norfolk was unable to find the equalizer and Wallace and Zach Sill added empty-net goals to give the Penguins the 6-3 win.