By Brian Ring
Hartford, CT, January 21, 2012 – The Connecticut Whale were defeated by the Norfolk Admirals, 5-4 in a shootout, Saturday night at the XL Center before a crowd of 5,557. Scott Tanski scored twice for the Whale and Kelsey Tessier added two assists, but it would not be enough to surpass the Admirals. The Admirals scored twice in the third period and the Whale once to send the game to overtime tied at four.
Richard Panik would score the shootout winner for Norfolk, also picking up one assist in the contest, and Carter Ashton had a goal and an assist for the Admirals.
“We had a good lead in the first, they got one back in the second,” said Whale head coach Ken Gernander. “We put the emphasis on finishing the game strong, not sitting back. We were unable to maintain that third-period lead.”
The Admirals had taken a quick lead just 39 seconds into the game, when Tyler Johnson’s shot from the right circle seemed to fool Whale goaltender Chad Johnson (30 saves), deflecting off his stick and into the net. Ashton and Cory Conacher both assisted on the goal.
Andre Deveaux would get the goal right back on the power-play, as he tipped a Kris Newbury feed past Norfolk starting goaltender Dustin Tokarski at 1:26. Deveaux’s 12th goal was also assisted on by Erik Christensen, who gathered his third point in as many games (2-1-3).
The Whale would take a 2-1 lead on Tanski’s breakaway goal 3:49 into the period, as he flew down the left wing boards before beating Tokarski high to his glove side. Tanski’s third of the season was unassisted.
Ryan Bourque would cash-in just under three minutes later, roofing the puck for his third goal and chasing Tokarski from the game after he allowed three goals on three shots to start the night. Bourque was fed in the slot by Tessier. Jaroslav Janus (25 saves) would replace Tokarski.
The Admirals would get one back at the 3:58 mark of the second period, as Ondrej Palat fired a close-in shot past Johnson to close the Whale lead to 3-2. The goal was the third of the season for Palat, coming unassisted.
That would be all of the scoring in the second period, with the shots winding up identical to the first frame with Norfolk outshooting their hosts, 8-7.
Norfolk would tie the game at three 6:10 into the third period, as an open Carter Ashton received a pass from Richard Panik and backhanded a shot past Johnson. Scott Jackson received the secondary assist on the goal.
A quick power-play goal just 18 seconds later from the AHL’s leading goal-scorer Cory Conacher would put the Admirals briefly on top, 4-3. Conacher’s wrist shot from the left wing boards got past Johnson, and the Whale found themselves trailing for the first time since the opening minutes of the game.
Tanski, however, would bury his second of the night 8:13 into the third to tie the game at four. Tommy Grant passed the puck across the slot to Tanski at the far post, and he promptly one-timed it past Janus. Jordan Owens picked up the secondary assist on the goal.
Neither team could pull ahead in the rest of the third period or in overtime, and the teams headed to the shootout.
Erik Christensen would give the Whale a quick lead in the tie-breaker after the first round, but Mike Kostka would tie it and Panik would score the shootout winner in the tenth round to seal the victory and send the Whale to their ninth straight defeat (0-5-2-2).
“We’re gonna have a good week of practice, we’ve got two more big games next weekend headed into the All-Star break,” said Gernander. “We’d like to get some points headed into the All-Star break so everybody can relax and have a good feeling.”
The Whale are now off until “Trading Card Weekend” at the XL Center Friday and Saturday. This Friday, January 27, when the Whale entertain the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (7:00 PM faceoff), 5,000 fans will receive the Whale’s second set of player trading cards, sponsored by Webster Bank. The featured players for this set are All-Star Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, Cam Talbot, Bourque, Tessier, Owens and, in a historical tribute, former Hartford Wolf Pack star Ryan Callahan, now captain of the parent New York Rangers. Then the next night, Saturday, January 28, when the Springfield Falcons visit the XL Center for a 7:00 game, will feature a giveaway of additional sets of the first group of Whale trading cards. That array included cards of All-Star Mats Zuccarello, Wade Redden, Newbury, Johnson and Carl Hagelin. Also, after the game on January 28, selected Whale players will conduct an autograph session to sign their cards.
Tickets for these, and all Whale home games, are available at the Public Power Ticket Office at the XL Center, as well as on-line at www.ctwhale.com and through TicketMaster Charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000.
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Norfolk Admirals 5 (SO) at Connecticut Whale 4
Saturday, January 21, 2012 – XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Norfolk 1 1 2 0 – 5
Connecticut 3 0 1 0 – 4
1st Period-1, Norfolk, Johnson 14 (Ashton, Conacher), 0:39. 2, Connecticut, Deveaux 12 (Newbury, Christensen), 1:26 (PP). 3, Connecticut, Tanski 3 (Tessier), 3:49. 4, Connecticut, Bourque 3 (Tessier, Parlett), 6:33. Penalties-Ouellet Nor (slashing), 1:16; Angelidis Nor (roughing), 9:03; Owens Ct (roughing), 9:03; Bell Ct (interference), 10:55.
2nd Period-5, Norfolk, Palat 3 3:58. Penalties-Conacher Nor (goaltender interference), 0:19; Newbury Ct (goaltender interference), 5:41; Johnson Nor (boarding), 14:39.
3rd Period-6, Norfolk, Ashton 16 (Panik, Jackson), 6:10. 7, Norfolk, Conacher 24 (Kostka), 6:28 (PP). 8, Connecticut, Tanski 4 (Grant, Owens), 8:13. Penalties-Jackson Nor (fighting), 6:10; Nightingale Ct (fighting), 6:10; Voros Ct (cross-checking), 6:10.
OT Period- No Scoring. Penalties-Angelidis Nor (roughing), 3:40; Newbury Ct (roughing), 3:40.
Shootout – Norfolk 2 (Gudas NG, Ashton NG, Kostka G, Barberio NG, Conacher NG, Ouellet NG, Fornataro NG, Dimmen NG, Johnson NG, Panik G), Connecticut 1 (Christensen G, Audy-Marchessault NG, Bell NG, Newbury NG, Tanski NG, Bouchard NG, Thuresson NG, Bourque NG, Deveaux NG, Erixon NG).
Shots on Goal-Norfolk 8-8-13-5-1-35. Connecticut 7-7-11-4-0-29.
Power Play Opportunities-Norfolk 1 / 3; Connecticut 1 / 3.
Goalies-Norfolk, Tokarski 17-9-0 (3 shots-0 saves); Janus 8-6-2 (26 shots-25 saves). Connecticut, Johnson 10-8-5 (34 shots-30 saves).
Referees-Terry Koharski (10).
Linesmen-Derek Wahl (46), Luke Galvin (2).