Magnus Hellberg stopped all 23 shots he faced, while goals by Austin Watson and Captain Mike Moore gave the Admirals all they needed to knot up the Western Conference Quarterfinals at 1-1.
Texas ended up outshooting Milwaukee 23-20, but the Ads were able to squeeze one past the Stars midway through the second period and finish with a remarkable empty-netter.
While the first period ended scoreless, the Ads had a strong start controlling most of the action. They got their first power play chance just 20 seconds in after a Kevin Connauton hooking call, and used it to build early momentum.
Mattias Ekholm had two pretty good chances on the PP, but the Stars eventually killed it off. Nevertheless, Milwaukee finished the period up 12-2 in shots.
The Ads got another early power play chance 37 seconds into the second period, but again failed to put one past Christopher Nilstorp.
After a brief rumble along the boards, Brad Winchester was down on the ice for a few moments and had to be helped up and off by trainer Doug Agnew and Patrick Cehlin. He went to the locker room and did not return. No news on his status.
After a couple of nice saves by Hellberg on long blasts from Francis Wathier and Joe Morrow, Watson got Milwaukee on the board.
Mike Liambas fired a nice shot from the left circle that popped off Nilstorp right to Watson. Watty was able to chip it past the Stars goalie who was late adjusting the rebound.
Watson said after the intial shot it was a matter of beating the goalie to the puck.
The Ads went on the PK right after taking the lead, but a shorthanded rush by Cehlin drew a tripping call on Mike Hedden that evened things out.
Holding the 1-0 lead for the final 20 minutes would be no easy task for the Ads, as they were dealt a blow in the first four minutes.
Liambas was called for charging after a big hit along the boards, and he then dropped the gloves with Luke Gazdic. After Gazdic dropped Liambas to the ice with a vicious hook to the head, Liambas looked a little dazed getting up. He also would not return after being helped off the ice.
The results of the fiasco were offsetting five-minute fighting calls, a ten-minute misconduct call and two-minute instigating call on Gazdic along with the initial charging call on Liambas. In short, after two minutes of four-on-four, the Ads faced a three-minute Stars power play.
The defense came up huge and Hellberg made some nice stops, as the Ads killed off what could’ve been a big turning point for the Stars.
Coach Dean Evason was pleased with his team’s performance on the extended PK and overall on defense.
With the Ads keeping the good chances away from their net, Nilstorp hit the bench with 1:30 to go.
Moore erased any doubt with a goal from the top of the left circle…of his own zone. His laser beam from the opposite end hit the back of the empty net to seal the deal.
When asked about which Nashville guys he expects to rejoin the Ads Wednesday, Evason promptly replied, “All of them.”
Evason also gave his expectations of the team’s trip to Texas, complimenting their ability to never get “too high” or “too low” after a game.
As mentioned, we don’t know the statuses of Liambas and Winchester and will keep you posted.
Milwaukee is 42-73 historically on the road in the playoffs and 9-13 in road Game Threes.
Did tonight change anybody’s opinions on the overall series outlook? Do you think the Ads can pull off two of three on the road?
While it would be foolish to not want guys like Chris Mueller back in the lineup, are you at all concerned it may mess with the Admirals’ chemistry at this point?