Rats’ defense clamps down on Norfolk

For the second consecutive game, and this time against one of the hotter teams in the league, the Al

For the second consecutive game, and this time against one of the hotter teams in the league, the Albany River Rats were hard to beat in their own zone.

They edged a surging Norfolk team, 2-1, Monday at the Times Union Center. The Admirals’ lone goal came on one of the few oc­casions they were able to put a rush on goalie Justin Peters.

“It’s just what we need at this time of the year,” Albany defenseman Jamie McBain said. “We were kind of in a slump for a little bit, and weren’t able to score. Defensively, we were giving up a lot. In these past two games, our penalty kill, especially, has been phenomenal. It’s something that’s been a little of a struggle for us, so to sharpen it up has helped us with some big momentum swings.”

Norfolk had gone 10-1-1-1 in its last 13 games to pull within four points of second-place Albany in the standings.

Mark Parrish put the Admirals (27-25-3-1) up, 1-0, at the 4:16 mark of the second period. With defense­man Jonathan Paiement in hot pursuit, Parrish fired over the left shoulder of Peters, off the crossbar and into the net.

Albany (29-20-3-3) answered at the 7:43 mark when McBain fired from the point. Goalie Dustin Tokarski made the save, but the puck settled just behind him on the right side of the crease, waiting for Drayson Bowman to skate in and finish for the goal.

There was 9:11 off the clock in the third when Albany defenseman Bryan Rodney put the Rats up for good. Jiri Tlusty sent a pass across from the left side to Rodney on the far side of the right circle, where he blasted it past Tokarski for the winner.

It’s not uncommon for Rodney and McBain to be involved in scoring plays. That blueline firepower is a specialty of McBain and Rodney’s game, one the Rats benefit from with the two of them on the first line.

“Bainer and Rods are obviously our most skilled guys back there,” Daniels said. “If they have a lane, they want to get the shot through with traffic in front of the net.”

Rodney said getting the attack started from the back end has been working for the Rats more often, lately.

“We’re starting to find our game in our own zone,” Rodney said. “That’s what’s starting to lead to having a better offensive attack. We stress, in this room, our offense starts in our own zone. Having Petey back in net, I know the six of us [defensemen] feel a little more comfortable and I think that shows.”

Peters won his first two NHL starts on his recent recall, but was reassigned to Albany while the NHL takes a break for the Winter Olympics. He stopped 22 of 23 shots Monday. Tokarski made 29 saves for Norfolk.

The Rats continue their loaded schedule Wednesday at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the first of four games in five days before they get a few days off.

Norfolk 0 1 0 — 1

Albany 0 1 1 — 2

First Period — None. Penalties — FitzGerald, Alb (slashing), 14:56; Wishart, Nor (interference), 19:45.

Second Period — 1, Norfolk, Parrish 14 (McGinnis, Fadden), 4:16. 2, Albany, Bowman 12 (McBain, Micflikier), 7:43. Penalties — Jones, Nor (interference), 9:14.

Third Period — 3, Albany, Rodney 5 (Tlusty, McBain), 9:11 (pp). Penalties — Fritz, Nor (elbowing), 8:34; Samson, Alb (tripping), 14:32.

Shots on goal — Norfolk 7-4-12 — 23. Albany 10-11-10 — 31.

Power-play opportunities — Norfolk 0 of 2; Albany 1 of 3.

Goalies — Norfolk, Tokarski 17-15-1 (31 shots-29 saves); Albany, Peters 18-13-2 (23-22).

A — 2,671. T — 2:14.

Referee — Frederic L’Ecuyer. Linesman — Robert St. Lawrence, Rich Patry.

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