The St. John's IceCaps got third-period goals from four different skaters, and weathered a Norfolk offensive storm to earn a 5-3 win over the Admirals for a 2-1 lead in their American Hockey League Eastern Conference playoff series.
Josh Morrissey got the offence going with a goal just 39 seconds into the final period and Ben Chiarot, Jerome Samson and Adam Lowry added the others for IceCaps.
"To get a goal in the first shift of such an important game lifts the bench and builds momentum," said IceCaps coach Keith McCambridge. "I thought after that, we got back to doing what we needed to, and that was managing pucks better and being a harder team to play against."
Eric O'Dell scored in the first period for St. John's.
Jesse Blacker, Max Friberg, and Josh Manson scored for the Admirals.
Norfolk led 2-1 going into the final period, after Friberg and Blacker scored within 1:42 of each other in the first period. The Admirals, who have struggled offensively all season, had been outshot 14-6 up until that point.
After a scoreless second period, Morrisey tied the game on a shot from the blue line behind two screening teammates.
"You give up a goal in the first minute of the third period with a 2-1 lead, that's not a recipe for success," Norfolk coach Trent Yawney said.
Chiarot's goal, also scored from well outside, gave the IceCaps a 3-2 lead eight minutes later.
"I was trying to box out the player in front of me, and the shot went through my legs," said Norfolk defenceman Manson. "I don't think [goaltender Brad Thiessen] saw it."
Manson replied 47 seconds later, scoring from the right faceoff circle over a sprawling Michael Hutchinson in the St. John's net. The IceCaps' Zach Redmond pushed Norfolk's Matt Bailey into Hutchinson, knocking him down and clearing the way for Manson's shot.
That tie was short lived, though.
Samson scored from short range at 10:05 to give St. John's the lead, which it nursed the rest of the way. Lowry scored into an empty net.
"I've always had good games here," said Samson. "Now it's playoff time, and it's even better."
Hutchinson turned back 25 shots for his fourth win of the playoffs.
Admirals goalie Thiessen made 26 saves. Thiessen, a playoff veteran with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for four seasons, but the backup since coming to Norfolk in November, was thrust into the starting role after the Anaheim Ducks recalled John Gibson to replace the injured Frederik Anderson.
Gibson, who was 4-2 in the playoffs with a 1.45 goals-against average and a 0.955 saves percentage when he was called up, started for Anaheim against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.
"That doesn't surprise me," said McCambridge about Gibson's call-up. "He looks like he's the real deal."
Game 4 is Monday in Norfolk.