For the second consecutive night, the Worcester Sharks defeated the Norfolk Admirals (AHL affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks), at the DCU Center, this time by a 4-3 final score in front of 5,286 fans Saturday night.
The Sharks, who moved into the seventh seed of the AHL Eastern Conference Calder Cup playoff race with the win and have won 15 of their last 19 games, got goals from forwards Ryan Carpenter, Willie Coetzee, Trevor Parkes, and defenseman Matt Taormina. Goaltender Troy Grosenick made his first start for the Sharks since Jan. 17 and registered 26 saves for his seventh straight win and 16th win of the season.
"We have one thing in mind - to get in the playoffs, and the guys are pretty committed to winning hockey games," said Sharks head coach Roy Sommer in a post game interview with Tom Flanagan of Telegram.com.
The Admirals struck first at 9:40 of the first period when forward Charles Sarault corralled an up ice pass from former San Jose forward Dany Heatley and fired a slap shot from just inside the left faceoff circle past Grosenick for his fourth goal of the season.
Taormina tied the game at 15:31 with a wrist shot from the top of the left point that got through traffic in front and beat Admirals goaltender Jason LaBarbera for his eighth goal of the season. Sharks defenseman Matt Tennyson and Carpenter had the assists on the goal.
The Sharks appeared to take a 2-1 lead minutes later as defenseman Konrad Abeltshauser ripped a one-timer slap shot from on top of the left faceoff circle past LaBarbera but the goal was waived off due to Sharks forward Rylan Schwartz making contact with LaBarbera inside the goal crease after he was hammered down in front by Admirals defenseman Colby Robak.
Carpenter officially put the Sharks ahead 2-1 at 4:51 of the second period when he finished off a two-on-two give-and-go rush with linemate John McCarthy by waiting out LaBarbera on a deke move in the slot and firing a backhanded shot into an open net for his ninth goal of the season. Sharks forward Eriah Hayes had the secondary assist.
Near the midway point of the third period at 8:49, the Admirals tied the game when forward William Karlsson took the puck away from Tennyson at the left point of the Sharks blue line, skated down into the left faceoff circle and sent an across the slot pass to linemate Stefean Noesen, who quickly fired the puck past Grosenick from deep inside the right faceoff circle for his second goal of the season.
Coetzee put the Sharks ahead 3-2 at 13:16 with a snap shot from on top of the right circle that surprised LaBarbera for his sixth goal of the season and second goal in as many games. Sharks forward Travis Oleksuk, who got a glove on the puck in the neutral zone before it was corralled by Coetzee, was credited with the lone assist.
Just 43-seconds later, Parkes extended the Sharks lead to 4-2 when he tapped in a bouncing puck from inside the goal crease for what held up as the game winner. Sharks forward Bryan Lerg and defenseman Taylor Fedun had the assists on the goal, which was Parkes' third of the season and third goal in his last four games.
After the Admirals pulled to within a goal at 17:45 off defenseman Mark Fistric's wrist shot from on top of the right faceoff circle, Grosenick robbed Admirals forward Chris Wagner of the tying goal seconds later by making a lunging split-legged right pad save on an Admirals odd man rush.
"It's just like the old saying, 'the harder you work, the luckier you are,' said Sommer. "I thought we just had timely goals at the end. Everybody is contributing - all four lines, and (Grosenick) made some really big saves at big moments."
NOTES... Shots on goal were 32-29 in favor of the Sharks... The Sharks went 0-for-3 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill... Grosenick is now 16-6-3 with a 2.69 goals-against-average and .905 save percentage... Sharks defensemen Taylor Doherty and Dylan DeMelo were the only Sharks player without a shot on goal... Parkes and linemate Evan Trupp each had a game high four shots on goal... Trupp (1-4-5), Oleksuk (2-4-6), and Parkes (3-1-4) all extended their point streaks to four games... The Sharks wore specialty jerseys for Heroes Night, which was presented by Unum to benefit Habitat for Humanity... This was the fourth and final meeting between the Sharks and Admirals this season... The Sharks went 3-1-0 against the Admirals, are 16-7-3 at the DCU Center (including winning eight of their last nine on home ice) and 28-17-6 with 62 points overall... The Sharks wrap up their three-in-three weekend on Sunday afternoon (Feb. 22) when they travel to play the Manchester Monarchs at 3 p.m./et.
1. Ryan Carpenter - Sharks (1-1-2)
2. Willie Coetzee - Sharks (1-0-1)
3. William Karlsson - Admirals (0-2-2)
McCarthy / Carpenter / Hayes
Lerg (C) / Trupp / Parkes
Haley (A) / Oleksuk / Hamilton
Schwartz / Coetzee
Taormina (A) / Tennyson
Abeltshauser / DeMelo
Young / Fedun