|NORFOLK (5) vs. ALBANY RIVER RATS (2)|
NORFOLK, VA - Bryan Bickell and Gregg Johnson each had three-point nights and Patrick Lalime made 32 saves as the Norfolk Admirals (28-8-4-1) defeated the Albany River Rats (18-18-2-1) 5-2 on Saturday night in front of 5,396 fans at Norfolk Scope.
Jonas Nordqvist gave the Admirals the lead early in the game. He sent a wrister from the left faceoff circle past Albany netminder Tyler Weiman glove side just 1:24 into the first period.
The Norfolk lead doubled later in the opening frame. Johnson and Bickell broke in on Weiman two-on-one. Johnson slid a cross-crease pass to Bickell at the left circle, and Bickell sent it past a tardy Weiman at 14:18. Johnson and David Koci picked up their first points as Admirals on the play. Lalime made 17 saves in the first period to preserve a 2-0 lead.
A power play early in the second stanza gave Norfolk a three-goal lead. Pierre Parenteau picked up his first goal as an Admiral by firing home a shot from the bottom of the left circle at 2:45.
The River Rats clawed back into the game with two middle period goals. Ryan Bayda drew Albany to within two goals of Norfolk just 16 seconds after Parenteau's goal. Just under two minutes later, Matt Murley converted a backdoor pass on the power play to make it 3-2 Norfolk. The goal at 4:58 was the first power play goal allowed in the past 52 chances by the Admirals - one penalty kill shy of tying the franchise record.
Johnson scored his first goal as an Admiral 16:03 into the final frame by sending a Bickell offering into the back of the net from the slot. He then assisted on Bickell's second goal of the game just 1:54 later, as Bickell registered his first pro multi-goal game.
Lalime (34 shots, 32 saves) won in his second Admirals' debut. He made his pro debut with the ECHL's Hampton Roads Admirals in the 1994-95 season. Weiman (36 shots, 31 saves) got the loss.
The Admirals were 1-4 on the power play. Albany was 1-3.
The Admirals have won their last five games overall, nine straight games at home and 13 of their past 15 games overall to climb to the top of the American Hockey League standings.
The Admirals travel to Bridgeport on Monday for an afternoon game at 1:00. The team returns to Scope on Friday, January 19 for an important East Division Showdown with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
1. Bryan Bickell - NOR
2. Pierre Parenteau - NOR
3. Gregg Johnson - NOR