By Jim Hodges Virginian-Pilot correspondent June 2, 2012 NORFOLK For a night, the Kids Line rode again, except that one of itsmembers was skating for the other team. Cory Conacher and Tyler Johnson scored Friday for the Admirals, asthey have since October. Their goals, along with a short-handed,empty-net shot by Brandon Segal gave the Admirals a 3-1 win overToronto in Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals at Scope. Carter Ashton, the third Kid until he was traded in February,scored as he has since October.
But this time his goal cut into theAdmirals’ lead in the third period and put offensively challengedToronto in a position to pull out a game in which it was outshot42-24 and couldn’t find a way to take advantage of 10 power-playopportunities. Worse, the Marlies skated the final power play at 6 on 4, withgoalie Ben Scrivens pulled in the final minute. Instead of success,though, the Admirals’ Segal corralled a loose puck and scored intoan empty net. “We’re in the Finals and our best players were our bestplayers,” Admirals coach Jon Cooper said. “Cory Conacherwas a deserving league MVP and he had one goal in 13 playoff games.Tonight, he gets a big one.” Which gave the Admirals a 1-0 first-period lead.
“Tyler Johnson gets a big one on the power play, and it was abig one for us,” Cooper said. “Toronto’s penalty killerswere intimidating all year long, and to get that power-play goalfor us was big.” The Marlies had given up only three power-play goals in 12 playoffgames until Friday. And they killed off a 96-second, 5-on-3Admirals advantage to open the third period. But the Admirals were no slouches in killing off penalties. “Let’s call a spade a spade, our penalty killing wasoutstanding,” Cooper said. Welding Turning Rolls
“We’re not going to survive inthe series by taking that many penalties.” The Admirals had 36 minutes of penalties, disrupting the flow ofplay and keeping defensive-minded players on the ice much longerthan they should have been. But penalty-killing notwithstanding, Toronto’s power playstruggled. In fact, if you listen to coach Dallas Eakins, most of his playersstruggled. “I think the best way to put it is that some of our top guysthat we need to perform well weren’t at their best tonight,”he said. Welding Turning Rolls
“I think we had maybe three or four forwards that Iwas happy with their game. And maybe two defensemen.” The lack of power in the power play was a concern, but it’s adiscrepancy that can be fixed easily enough, he added. “No. 1, that was the worst ice I’ve ever seen in mylife,” Eakins said. “It was just horrible out there. Welding Positioners Manufacturer
Itwas like having a lacrosse ball, but I thought we were complicatingit. When there’s ice like that, it’s the same for both teams, andyou’ve got to simplify your power play. You’re looking for twopasses and get it to the net.” On Friday, Dustin Tokarski was in the net waiting. He turned back23 shots in earning his ninth win in 11 playoff starts this season.
All around him – and for that matter, all around his Torontocounterpart, Ben Scrivens – players pushed and shoved, and punched. “People are angry, but this is the playoffs,” Coopersaid. “People get angry.”.