Despite 45 saves from goaltender Harri Sateri, the Worcester Sharks were defeated 4-3 in overtime by the Norfolk Admirals in front of 6,247 fans at the DCU Center Saturday evening on Fan Appreciation Night. As a result of the loss, the Sharks are officially eliminated from Calder Cup playoff contention in the AHL Eastern Conference.
Sharks right winger James Livingston had a two point game with a goal and an assist, rookie left winger Riley Brace extended his point streak to four games with two assists, defenseman Matt Pelech scored his second goal in as many nights and rookie right winger Eriah Hayes scored his first professional goal.
Before a second ticked off the clock on the opening face-off, Sharks enforcer Jimmy Bonneau dropped the gloves with Admirals left winger Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond in a lengthy see-saw battle that started at center ice and ended deep in the Admirals zone.
Livingston put the Sharks up 1-0 at 4:29 of the first period when he crashed the net on right side and slammed home a rebound off of Brace's shot from inside the left-off circle. Sharks defenseman Taylor Doherty was credited with the secondary assist on the goal, which was Livingston's seventh of the season.
Pelech extended the Sharks lead to 2-0 at 11:43 when he beat Admirals goaltender Frederik Andersen through the wickets with a blast of a shot from the top of the right point for his third goal of the season. Sharks defenseman Sena Acolatse and Livingston were credited with the assists.
In the second period, the Admirals out-shot the Sharks 23-8 and tied the game with two goals in a 6:19 span. Admirals left winger Patrick Maroon stuffed a rebound past Sateri at 5:36 for his 24th goal of the season after Sateri had made the initial save on a shot in the slot by Admirals captain Nate Guenin. The Admirals tied the game at 11:55 when right winger Devante Smith-Pelley beat Sateri with a wicked snap shot from in-between the face-off circles for his 13th goal of the season.
Just 13-seconds into the third period, the Admirals took a 3-2 lead when center Chris Wagner found a bouncing puck in the low slot off a blocked shot from the point by Admirals defenseman Hampus Lindholm and beat Sateri for his eighth goal of the season.
The Sharks tied the game at 7:14 when Hayes corralled a centering feed from Brace, who was behind the goal line on the right side, and slammed the puck the into an open net on the left side. Sharks rookie right winger Matt Nieto was credited with the secondary assist.
In overtime, Brace was assessed a delay of game penalty for "face-off violation" at 2:54 and the Admirals won the game 30-seconds later when First Team AHL All Star defenseman Sami Vatanen, from one knee, blasted a one-timer from on top of face-off circles off the crossbar and into the net for his ninth goal of the season.
NOTES... Shots were 49-34 in favor of the Admirals... The Sharks went 0-for-4 on the power play and 5-for-6 on the penalty kill... Sateri is now 14-20-3 with a 2.86 goals-against-average and .904 save percentage... Hayes had a game high 10 shots on goal, which tied a Sharks team record (via Darryl Hunt of Sharkspage.com)... With the one fight, the Sharks now have 80 through 72 games... Brace has five points (3-2-5) in his first four professional games... The Sharks have lost a franchise record eight straight games at the DCU Center... Adam Comrie (inj), Curt Gogol (inj), Yanni Gourde (inj), John McCarthy (inj), Brodie Reid (inj), Marek Viedensky (inj), Mike Brennan (scr0, Christophe Lalancette (scr), Travis Oleksuk (scr), Denny Urban (scr) and Dane Walters (scr) did not dress for the Sharks... This was the fourth and final meeting between the teams this season... The Sharks went 0-2-1-1 against the Admirals this season, are 13-16-4-4 at the DCU Center and 30-32-4-6 with 70 points overall... During the game, the Sharks announced the recipients of their team awards, which were defenseman Matt Tennyson (Rookie of the Year), defenseman Nick Petrecki (Man of the Year), Livingston (Unsung Hero), Alex Stalock (Three Stars Award) and Bracken Kearns (MVP).
1. Sami Vatanen - Admirals (1-0-1, GWG)
2. James Livingston - Sharks (1-1-2)
3. Chris Wagner - Admirals (1-0-1)