The Norfolk Admirals, the AHL affiliates of the Tampa Bay Lightning, traveled up to Hartford Saturday evening to face the Connecticut Whale in an inter-division game. The Whale had clinched a playoff spot just a few nights earlier, securing their place as the final seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Admirals entered Saturday night's game with a playoff spot secure and final seeding still up in the air.
The Admirals came out strong against the Whale, dominating them for the entire first period and allowing only four shots on goal. They kept the puck down in the Whale's territory for almost the entire period, and were able to get off 20 shots and score three goals. Marc-Antoine Pouliot, Paul Szczechura, and Blair Jones scored the goals for the Admirals.
While the Whale would battle back in both the second and third periods, scoring three goals themselves and controlling the puck more, the Admirals' early lead was enough to allow them to coast to victory. The Admirals tacked on another 17 shots and three goals over the course of the final two periods, including one final goal with around three minutes left, putting the game firmly out of reach of the Whale.
With this win, the Admirals move on to face the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a best-of-seven series. The Penguins should be a formidable opponent, as they finished the year with the best record in the AHL at 58-21 (117 points), while the Admirals finished with 93 total points. In an ironic turn of events, this match-up will mirror the first round playoff match-up of each team's NHL affiliate, as the Tampa Bay Lightning face the Pittsburgh Penguins in a best-of-seven series starting this week.