Toledo, OH- The Norfolk Admirals, fresh off a resilient shootout victory, faced off against the Toledo Walleye for the second game of their weekend series. Denis Smirnov scored the game-winning goal in the shootout for the second consecutive night, earning the Admirals two points in a thrilling Saturday matchup.
Yaniv Perets, the Admirals' goaltender, returned to the ice and delivered an outstanding performance. He made 31 saves out of 32 shots, propelling his team to a hard-fought victory.
During the opening period, both teams engaged in back-and-forth play, with each incurring multiple penalties, and creating numerous scoring opportunities. The high-intensity game saw Norfolk go on the power play at the nine-minute mark after a cross-checking call. However, the team could not capitalize on the man advantage. A chance to take the lead presented itself when Andrew McLean forced a turnover in his defensive zone, allowing him to go on a breakaway in 4-on-4 hockey. Unfortunately, John Lethemon denied McLean five-hole, keeping the score even at zero.
Despite having an advantage in shots on goal, with a score of 12-10, the Admirals could not find the back of the net, and the opening period ended with a scoreless tie.
During the second period of the game, the Walleye demonstrated a stronger forecheck, resulting in numerous notable saves by Perets. The Admirals received two minor penalties early on, resulting in a 5-on-3 disadvantage, but Perets made significant saves to prevent any goals and successfully fend off both penalty kills.
The game remained scoreless until seven minutes into the period when Alexandre Doucet capitalized on a rebound off the back wall and fired a shot past Perets, who was down on his stomach following the initial shot. This marked Doucet's eighth goal of the year, breaking the tie. Despite the Walleye's goal, the Admirals began to settle in and establish a rhythm on their forecheck, but Lethomen remained strong for the Walleye.
Toledo managed to take 12 shots on goal while the Admirals managed only seven. Toledo maintained their one-goal lead, which could have been extended if it weren't for the remarkable effort made by Perets in goal during the latter half of the period.
During the third period of the game, the Admirals had several chances to tie the game. Keaton Jameson had an opportunity to score off a blocked shot, where he skated down the ice on a breakaway and attempted to beat Lethomen five-hole, but his shot was unsuccessful. Toledo received three separate minor penalties in the period, and Norfolk was bound to capitalize on them.
It was not until a 5-on-3 power play with only a minute and twenty-one seconds left in the game that Carson Musser finally broke through Lethomen with a top-shelf slapshot to even the score at 1-1. Following the goal, the Admirals had another power play to potentially win the game in regulation, but instead, the game progressed into overtime for the third consecutive game.
During overtime, the Admirals controlled the majority of puck possession and had several offensive opportunities to win the game, including a two-on-one with Brandon Osmundson and Darick Louis-Jean. However, Lethomen made a spectacular diving stop to keep the game tied. On the opposite end of the rink, Perets made a crucial save off a free defender out front with a diving effort. Overtime was not enough to determine the winner of this goaltending duel, necessitating a shootout.
In the shootout, Perets made both of his saves in the first two rounds, while Musser missed his opportunity in the first round. Stepan Timofeyev put the Admirals ahead in the second round, and Smirnov sealed the deal with his snipe that beat Lethomen's glove side, as the Admirals erupted off the bench in jubilation with an incredible finish.
Sentara Health Three Stars of the Game
1. TOL - J. Lethemon (44 saves off of 45 shots)
2. NOR - S. Timofeyev (Shootout Goal)
3. TOL - A. Doucet (1 goal, +1)
The Admirals conclude their weekend series against the Walleye tomorrow evening. The puck is set to drop at 5:15 p.m.