NORFOLK- Kyle Palmieri tied the game at 3-3 to force overtime, but the Norfolk Admirals (14-16-2-0) fell to the Syracuse Crunch (22-7-2-3), 4-3, in front of a raucous crowd of 7,016 fans on Saturday night at Norfolk Scope Arena.
John Kurtz and Patrick Maroon also scored for Norfolk while Sami Vatanen assisted on all three Admirals goals. Igor Bobkov (7-10-0) stopped 22 of 26 shots for Norfolk. The Admirals' power play scored twice on five chances while denying all four Syracuse power play opportunities.
After a scoreless opening period, the Admirals struck first 2:58 into the second stanza. Vatanen worked the puck from the right corner to Kurtz in the slot. Kurtz, who initially had his back to the net, spun around and sent a shot towards the goal. The shot deflected off the skate of a Syracuse defender and eluded Crunch goaltender Dustin Tokarski for a 1-0 lead on Kurtz’s third goal of the season.
Syracuse responded less than one minute later. J.T. Wyman attempted a centering feed from the left circle that hit traffic in the goalmouth. As Bobkov attempted to cover the loose puck, Alex Killorn beat him to it and slid the puck into the net around the goaltender’s left leg. The goal at 3:48 tied the contest at 1-1.
The Admirals re-claimed the lead with a power play goal midway through the second period. Vatanen sent a slap shot from the right circle that Tokarski stopped. The puck was loose between the netminder’s legs, and Maroon jammed it into the net for his tenth goal of the season at 12:28
Syracuse leveled the game at 2-2 late in the second stanza. Pierre-Cedric Labrie caused a turnover at the right point of the Norfolk zone and chipped the puck to Vladislav Namestnikov in the right circle for a quick-developing two-on-one. Namestnikov sent a backhand shot under Bobkov at 17:58.
The Crunch took the lead for the first time early in the third period. Richard Panik dumped the puck into the Norfolk zone around the right wing boards. Bobkov attempted to play the puck, but it was picked off by Panik, who wrapped it around the post and into the net at 3:46.
The game became rough after the Panik goal, as Norfolk's Jay Rosehill and Syracuse's Eric Neilson dropped the gloves at 4:23 in a sequel to their bout of a night earlier. Moments after Palmieri was felled by a Radko Gudas hit, Norfolk's Peter Holland and Panik also dropped the gloves and put a charge into the Scope faithful at 11:19.
The Gudas hit earned the former Admiral a minor penalty to interference, and Palmieri got a measure of revenge by scoring the game-tying goal just 20 seconds into the power play. Vatanen earned his third assist of the contest by getting the puck to the Norfolk sniper in the left circle. Palmieri sent a wrist shot past Tokarski for his eleventh goal of the season and knotted the score at 3-3 at 11:39 of the third period.
In overtime, Killorn spotted Brett Connolly in the left circle for a shot that eluded Bobkov. The game-deciding play came 1:21 into overtime and gave the Crunch the 4-3 decision. Dustin Tokarski (15-5-3) stopped 22 of 25 shots for Syracuse.