The Admirals got some familiar faces back Wednesday night, but it wasn’t enough to win Game Three and break the 1-1 deadlock in the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
Along with the returns of Daniel Bang and Kevin Henderson, the Ads lineup card also featured Chris Mueller, Taylor Beck and Victor Bartley. However, in an entertaining contest, Texas scored twice in the final thirteen minutes to make Friday’s Game Four a must-win for Milwaukee.
The Stars’ Alex Chiasson, who rejoined Texas along with Reilly Smith for Game Three, ended up with the game-winner at 7:42. After making contact with Mueller on what could’ve been a crosschecking call, Chiasson was fed by Justin Dowling in the slot and redirected the pass past Magnus Hellberg.
It was the first road goal the Admirals had surrendered in 205 minutes and 33 seconds, and it didn’t get any better for Milwaukee from that point.
Kevin Henderson ran into Kevin Connauton behind the Texas net, drawing a roughing call that gave Texas a power play at 13:33.
Connauton would give Texas a late two-goal cushion just 24 seconds later, firing a slapper from near the blue line that zipped through traffic and over Hellberg’s glove.
That was more than the Stars would need to seal the win, as the Ads couldn’t sneak one past Christopher Nilstorp. Hellberg hit the bench with two minutes left, but it was for naught.
The game was very tightly played up to Texas’ first goal, as the Ads and Stars battled back and forth for two periods.
Milwaukee got off to a shaky start as it was outshot 5-1 in the first eight minutes and 15-6 total for the first period. The Ads bounced back to win the shots battle 7-4 in the second period, and finished the game with 21 total shots.
Texas fired the puck long on Hellberg all night, forcing him to play it and setting up a lot of offensive zone faceoffs. Though they didn’t win a majority of these faceoffs, this strategy kept the Ads at their own end for good chunks of the game.
Despite the loss, Helberg had another solid showing stopping 29 of 31 Texas shots and adding to his total of 93 saves on 98 shots for the series. Nilstorp has been just as good, allowing just three goals in his three games started.
After the game, assistant coach Stan Drulia said the team will need to find “a way to get more pucks to the net in Friday’s game.”
“We just didn’t get into it in the third period,” Drulia said. “We have to shake this one off and be ready to go Friday. We’ll also need to make sure we’re getting out of our end cleanly at key moments. In the end we try not to rush to judgments, so we’ll look at the video and see what adjustments we need to make.”
Milwaukee must now win on back-to-back nights in Cedar Park to advance to the Western Conference semifinals.
How do you think the presence of Mueller, Beck and Bartley affected the team tonight, if at all? Mueller led the team with four shots, and Bartley was a close second with three. Zach Budish and Patrick Cehlin were the only other guys with more than one shot.
If you were at Goolsby’s (or if not), what adjustments do you see the Ads making in Game Four? Valentine back at wing possibly?