NORFOLK, Va. – Ethan Graham’s third period goal brought the Norfolk Admirals (11-13-1-0) within a goal of tying the Albany River Rats (11-10-1-2). However, the River Rats killed seven Admirals power plays – including three in the third period – to hold on for a 3-2 victory on Saturday night at Norfolk Scope Arena.
The Admirals claimed a 1-0 lead just over five minutes into the game. Blair Jones entered the attacking zone along the right wing and dropped a pass to Ryan Craig just across the blue line. Craig sent a wrist shot from the right point through the legs of an Albany defender and between the right arm and leg of Albany netminder Justin Peters at 5:03 for his eighth goal of the season.
The River Rats took the lead later in the opening frame with a pair of goals less than a minute apart. Zach Boychuk sent a shot from between the crease and bottom of the right circle that dribbled past the right leg of Helenius and barely crossed the goal line at 13:53. Then at 14:50, Rob Hennigar won a faceoff back to Jay Harrison for a shot from the left point. Helenius, who was at the top of his crease, stopped the puck, but it landed just behind him in the crease. Jacob Micflikier backhanded the loose puck into the net for his second goal in as many days against Norfolk.
After a scoreless second stanza, the River Rats doubled their lead with a power play goal at 6:26 of the final frame. Stefan Chaput sent a pass from the right corner to Brett Carson at the right point. Carson teed up a slap shot that found its way through traffic and over the left shoulder of goaltender Riku Helenius for a 3-1 Albany lead.
Norfolk closed back to within one goal of Albany with defenseman Ethan Graham’s first goal as an Admiral at 12:30. Craig forced a turnover in the left corner behind Peters and the puck bounced to Jones. Jones shoveled a pass toward the slot that Adam Hall deflected to the hashmark of the right circle. Graham pinched in and sent a backhand shot under the left arm of Peters.
However, the Admirals were unable to find the equalizer in the game’s final minutes despite three power play opportunities.
Riku Helenius (29 shots, 26 saves) took the loss. Justin Peters (37 shots, 35 saves) earned the win.
Norfolk was 0-7 on the power play. Albany was 1-4.
Next up for the Admirals are a pair of road games next week. They will face the Adirondack Phantoms at Philadelphia’s Wachovia Center on Friday and will then face the Hershey Bears at Giant Center on Saturday. Both games will begin at 7:00 p.m.
1. Zach Boychuk – ALB
2. Ethan Graham – NOR
3. Blair Jones – NOR
NOTES … Norfolk’s streak of opponent power plays killed ended at 29 straight kills with Brett Carson’s third period power play goal … Twenty-four of Norfolk’s 25 games this season have been decided by two or fewer goals … With a pair of assists tonight, Blair Jones now has points in four straight games (2G, 3A) and points in ten of his last 13 games (5G, 11A) … Graham’s third period goal was his first as an Admiral and his second career American Hockey League goal. He scored one goal with the Iowa Stars during the 2007-08 season … Scratches: D Kevin Quick, LW Radek Smolenak, C Mitch Fadden ... Attendance: 3,724.