Magnus Hellberg and the Admirals played well enough to take Game One, but a rough break in overtime put Milwaukee down 0-1 in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
After the Admirals tied the game at 7:11 of the third period, Brett Ritchie’s goal at 11:44 of OT sent top-seeded Texas to a 3-2 victory.
Ritchie took a neutral-ice pass from Mike Hedden (that was very close to being offsides), skated to the slot and whipped a high wrister past the big goalie.
(Goal starts at :18)
Hellberg finished with 41 saves in the solid overall effort. He said Joonas Jarvinen may have screened him a bit on the game-winner, but credited the quality shot.
After killing off Texas’ first chance of the game, Milwaukee got its first power play opportunity on a Scott Glennie holding call. The Admirals showed some spark right off the bat on the PP rattling off seven shots.
Patrick Cehlin finally Furied the Fury, getting the Ads on the board at 12:05 with three seconds left in the man-advantage. The puck came right to Cehlin at the left dot and his beautiful, quick slapper beat Christopher Nilstorp for the 1-0 lead.
Right after the goal, Nilstorp was assessed a 10-minute misconduct penalty and Toby Petersen served.
The Ads wouldn’t register a shot on net for the rest of the period, and with just 15.6 on the clock the Stars tied things up.
Ryan Ellis and Juuso Puustinen couldn’t get back and set up in time to disrupt a tight rush by Matt Fraser and Travis Morin. Morin chipped the puck towards Hellberg and Fraser redirected it slightly from the left slot for the equalizer.
The second period was a tough one for Milwaukee, as the Ads mustered just one shot on goal.
Zach Budish went to the box at 2:14 for interference, but the Ads killed off their second penalty thanks to back-to-back stops by Hellberg including a great save on Ritchie’s try from point-blank range.
After an interference call on Brad Winchester, however, Texas grabbed a 2-1 lead at 9:09.
Mattias Ekholm fell down a bit, giving Kevin Connauton too much space, and the defenseman lifted a wrister to beat Hellberg top shelf from the left dot.
Milwaukee headed to the break facing a one-goal deficit, and history wasn’t on its side. The Admirals have won just seven of 41 AHL playoff games when trailing after two periods.
After failing to get a shot on net in almost 30 minutes, the Ads started the third with four shots in the first five minutes.
Six seconds after a tripping call on Joonas Jarvinen, Hedden went to the box for embellishment. Then another Texas penalty on Joe Morrow gave the Ads a 4-on-3 chance that they would convert for the equalizer.
Early in the PP, Zach Hamill whiffed on a nice circle-to-circle feed from Winchester, but seconds later made it a 2-2 game from the exact same spot.
Winchester’s wrister from the right circle bounced cleanly off Nilstorp to a waiting Hamill in the left slot. He had plenty of room to bury the rebound with a wrister of his own and pick up some momentum for Milwaukee at 7:11.
The Ads kept the pressure on right after the goal, drawing an interference call against Connauton.
The Stars promptly responded with a solid penalty kill that ended with a nifty move by Morin on a shorthanded breakaway to draw a hooking call on Puusty.
Some monster pad saves by Hellberg kept the score tied and sent the game to the extra period, but it was for naught.
Coach Dean Evason was pleased with the power play’s two for five performance, but felt his team didn’t produce as well at even strength.
Coach added that his team showed good composure despite the loss.
Evason wouldn’t confirm any player movement for tomorrow, but it’s probable that Daniel Bang, Austin Watson and Kevin Henderson will be recalled to the Predators. Evason also had nothing to add about Nashville’s decision to keep Filip Forsberg.
As AHL playoff records go, the Ads drop to 22-24 in Game Ones, 25-20 in one goal games and 20-23 in overtime games.
Milwaukee will get its second and final home-ice shot at Texas tonight at 7 pm CDT.