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AHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinal: The series is 1-1

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Feb 26 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Mike Angelidis (59) rushes the puck against the New Jersey Devils during the third period at the Prudential Center.  Mandatory Credit: Alan Maglaque-US PRESSWIRE
Feb 26 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Mike Angelidis (59) rushes the puck against the New Jersey Devils during the third period at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Alan Maglaque-US PRESSWIRE

The Norfolk Admirals lost a game for the first time since Super Bowl XLVI on February 5th, 2012. This loss does not count against their regular season unbeaten streak record. But, it still broke an unbeaten streak of games overall.

In many ways, Game 2 of the AHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinal was an extension of Game 1. The Manchester Monarchs, who the Admirals had not seen this season until playoffs started, tried to establish a very physical presence from the beginning. And while the Admirals pulled out a 3-2 win in that game, they got sucked into the physical play and took far more penalties than they should have.

Perhaps it was the fact that the team hadn't lost in a couple of months and they were taking some things for granted, but they came out rather flat in the first.

"We weren't playing our best. We were a little sloppy with our plays - a lot of turnovers," Admirals captain Mike Angelidis said. "I think in the second period, the boys responded and came out hard. But we couldn't capitalize in the third, and that's when you need to win hockey games."

They were down 2-0 at the end of the first period. But, they came out ready to play in the second, and got an energy boost from an Angelidis fight three minutes into the period. He left the ice immediately afterwards, but only because he had lost a contact and needed to replace it. The Admirals took 22 shots and getting two goals from Alexandre Picard that period.

That would be all of the scoring for Norfolk for the night, however. The third period was much like the first, a little sloppy and a number of penalties. Discipline hasn't been the best for the Admirals in this playoff series so far.

"We just got selfish, and took some bad penalties at the wrong times when we had the momentum," said Picard.

Manchester scored at 5:28 of the third to make it 3-2. However, it was their fourth goal of the night at 16:16 completely took the wind out of the Norfolk sails. After that, the Admirals looked a bit shell-shocked. The Monarchs finished up the game with an empty net goal, and the final was 5-2.

"Shell-shocked is probably the word. We haven't been in the position in a long time. Even during the streak, we never had to pull a goaltender to win a game. I think guys just didn't know what it felt like," said head coach Jon Cooper.

"We were a product of our own stupidity. We did a lot of things that were just uncharacteristic with what's gone on with us for quite some time. And we paid for it. Give Manchester a ton of credit. What a hostile environment to come into, playing against a team that was probably labeled a favorite, and they came in and did what they wanted."

However, don't blame Jaroslav Janus on having a bad night.

"I've been extremely happy with Janus's performance," Cooper said. "Look no further than at his numbers for the past two and a half to three months. He's always found a way to win the game. Janny made some big saves for us."

The AHL decided this season that the first round would be a best-of-five series, so the final three games will be played in Manchester starting on Wednesday, 25 April. Game time is 7 pm Eastern. The final two scheduled games are on Friday and Saturday (if necessary) - both of which also start at 7 pm Eastern. The Admirals have deferred their home ice advantage due to a scheduling conflict with the arena.