Norfolk lost 2-0 Saturday at Albany (N.Y.) on the next-to-last day of the AHL regular season, putting the Admirals’ hopes of qualifying for the playoffs out of their hands.
The Devils’ David Wohlberg scored on a rebound past Norfolk goalie Frederik Andersen with 2:33 left in regulation to break a 0-0 tie, and Mike Sislo’s empty-netter with 15 seconds left sealed the outcome.
The Admirals, who began Saturday in a four-way tie for the Eastern Conference’s last two playoff spots, narrowly escaped elimination -- at least temporarily -- Saturday night because of losses by the Hershey Bears and Connecticut Whale. If either team had won, the Admirals would have seen their hopes extinguished.
The bad news for the Admirals was that the Manchester Monarchs won, clinching a playoff bid.
Norfolk's best way into the playoffs is to defeat the host Providence Bruins -- whether in regulation, overtime or a shootout -- while Hershey loses in any fashion at home against Manchester.
There's a remote chance the Admirals could make the playoffs in this manner: Hershey loses in regulation, while Norfolk reaches overtime before losing. The only way the Whale -- whose regular season is over -- will make the playoffs is if the Admirals and Bears lose in regulation.
If the Admirals tie Hershey in points, they will lose the tiebreaker because they have achieved fewer non-shootout wins (30 to the Bears' 31, through Saturday). Manchester has 35, Connecticut 33.
The number of non-shootout victories is the first tiebreaker in determining playoff qualifiers.