Last week, the Norfolk Admirals faced the Springfield Falcons (Columbus) on the road and were shut out 5-0 by former-Anaheim Duck, Curtis McElhinney. The two teams met again on Friday with the Admirals hoping to avoid reliving their poor play of the prior meeting.
The Admirals started off quick in the first period with a goal in the first minute of play. Patrick Maroon wrapped around the net and found some open space behind the previously untouchable McElhinney. Nate Guenin and Chris Wagner would get the assists. The goal had to give the team some confidence after the guy shut them out last week. But, just under four minutes later, Sean Collins tied the game for the Falcons. The puck snuck-in under Frederik Andersen's skate and slid over the line. It was nothing more than a flukey goal. Less than five minutes left in the first, Admirals captain Nate Guenin scored his first goal of the season while on the power play. The puck was shot from the blue-line and deflected multiple times. I originally thought Luca Caputi deflected it in, but Ads radio announcer, Pete Michaud, said a Springfield defender's stick put it into the net, giving Nate the goal. Hampus Lindholm and Caputi on the assists. At the end of the period, the Admirals were out-shot 9-to-8, but lead 2-1 on the scoreboard.
The second period would be the typical 'Admirals up by one goal. What do we do now?' showcases. It was a sloppy period where no one could get anything going. Aside from Ryan Lasch, there were no quality scoring chances. Springfield's Cam Atkinson took full advantage of the lackluster play of the Ads. He started by scoring a power-play goal at 10:54. The Ads very tired penalty kill unit forgot about Atkinson, leaving him wide open on the back-side of Andersen. Less than five minutes left in the second, Atkinson scored a short-handed goal on a breakaway. Guenin caught up to him but didn't do much to stop him. Ads were out-shot 13-9 on the period and now down to Springfield, 3-2.
A completely different Admirals team showed up for the third period. Maybe the coach tore into them during intermission, maybe a player stepped up, we will never know. The Admirals fired at McElhinney ALL period long. The Falcons had no answer, except to occasionally escape their zone and throw a shot on Andersen.
The Ads were shooting a lot more but couldn't turn those shots into goals to tie the game; even when gifted multiple power play opportunities and zone possession cycles. Springfield beats Norfolk again; this time, 3-2.
McElhinney received the third star of the game. After taking twenty shots in the third and making some remarkable saves, he probably deserved second or firs. Trust me. That is saying a lot as someone who is anti goalies getting stars.
Pre Game Notes for Saturday:
-- The Admirals attempt to split the weekend series Saturday at 7:15pm ET. Primary task should be to shut down Cam Atkinson of Springfield. Against the Ads alone, he has two goals and four assists in two (2!!) games. Those are insane numbers.
-- Norfolk has shown it can score on McElhinney; however, they need to do it unconventionally, with more deflections and wrap arounds.
-- Tonight is a good night to bench Gabe Guentzel and see what Nick Schaus can do for us. Schaus was having a good, but not remarkable year in Fort Wayne before the call up.
-- I hope the Admirals play Andersen again tonight. He is starting to establish himself as the starter. Now he needs to add confidence by being called on to start against big teams and in must-win games. After starting the season off 4-0, the Admirals have gone 3-6. Its not quite time to sound the alarm, but the ship needs to be righted. I think Andersen is the way to go in establishing this.
[Ed. Note: If someone isn't getting my Simpson references in the headlines mentioning Springfield, I have nothing to say to you.]