Admirals have the extra firepower
Hershey comes back from 3-0 deficit, but falls 4-3 in shootout BY KEVIN FREEMAN, Sports Writer
HERSHEY -- The normal detriments of playing on the road don't seem to faze the Norfolk Admirals when they play in Hershey.
Norfolk, which lugged an AHL-worst six road wins into the Giant Center Sunday night, beat the Hershey Bears for the second time in three tries this season at the GC, 4-3 in a shootout.
Despite a stirring third-period comeback that saw the Bears score three times to overcome a 3-0 deficit, including a Ryan Potulny goal with 35 seconds remaining in the period, the Admirals got shootout goals from Patrick Maroon, Josh Brittain and Luca Caputi against one by Peter LeBlanc for the Bears.
Norfolk goalie Igor Bobkov, who made 31 saves in the game, raised his record to 3-0 in shootouts. He's stopped 14 of 17 shootout shots this season. Norfolk moved to 5-1 in shootouts this season, the Bears to 4-3.
Maroon, who had three assists in a 5-1 win over the Bears in Hershey in December and had a goal and an assist to go along with his shootout tally Sunday, said there really isn't any magic to the Ads' success in Hershey.
"We're behind those guys in the standings and we're just trying to catch them,'' he said. "Getting the first goal helps. We folded a little in the third period but bounced back in the shootout.''
The Bears, who picked up three of four standings points in the weekend's two games, were unable to pick up where they left off after Saturday's 4-3 win over the Binghamton Senators.
Maroon's tip of Sami Vatanen's point shot gave Norfolk a 1-0 lead and the Bears were unable to convert a pair of power plays against an Admirals team that ranks 27th of 30 AHL teams in road penalty killing.
A third Hershey power play at the start of the second period produced nary a shot and Norfolk doubled Hershey's pain on a goal by Peter Holland off a Hershey turnover at the Bears' blue line.
"The power play was poor and that took the life out of us,'' said Hershey coach Mark French, whose team scored twice with the man advantage Saturday.
Maroon picked up his assist later in the second, feeding a wide open Dan Sexton who easily slid the puck past Hershey goalie Dany Sabourin from the slot for a 3-0 Admirals lead.
Hershey began its comeback early in the third period, scoring on its first shot. Jeff Taffe's pass found Barry Almeida, who cut across the slot and beat Bobkov with a wrist shot.
"That real nice play gave us some life and we seemed to gain some momentum from that,'' French said.
Hershey tested Bobkov a couple of times midway through the period, and when Potulny redirected Casey Wellman's perfectly-placed pass past Bobkov, the Bears narrowed the lead to one at 3-2 and were rolling.
Hershey let another power play come and go with no shots but tied the game 3-3 on Potulny's second of the game (again assisted by Wellman) just as Sabourin was skating to the bench for an extra attacker.
"We were frustrated with the way we played in the first two periods,'' said Potulny, talking about the comeback. "We showed some character, battling back and managed to get a point out of the game.''
The Bears had the best chance to win the game in OT when Boyd Kane's pass sprung Taffe in alone on Bobkov. Taffe seemed to get the puck stuck in his skates as he swept from right to left in front of the Norfolk goalie. By the time Taffe regathered the puck, Bobkov was able to snuff out the backhand shot.
"Obviously, we didn't have a great start,'' said Potulny, who ended a 13-game goal drought. "But anytime you can battle back like that it shows that the guys in the locker room care and three out of four points on the weekend is a big step for us.''
Notes: Hershey has gone into OT or into a shootout in Sabourin's last five straight starts. He's 1-2-2 in that stretch. ... Hershey RW Danick Paquette left the game in the second period and didn't return. French did not know Paquette's injury or status after the game. ... Hershey RW Ryan Stoa did not play in the third period. French said he wasn't injured. ... The Bears play four in a row away from Hershey, including games in Hamilton, Toronto, Rochester and Binghamton over the next two weeks. Hershey returns home to play Adirondack Saturday, Feb. 23.