The Admirals lost 5-1 against the Grand Rapids Griffins Wednesday night. The lone saving grace from this game may have come in the form on Kevin Henderson’s late third period goal that ended a scoreless streak of 127:18 for the Admirals – who fell behind by 5-0 prior to that happening. The season long losing streak for the Ads is now at five games.
“I don’t know singularly offense was the problem tonight it was our entire game,” said head coach Dean Evason. “We were as flat and as dead as our group has been.”
After their meeting on Sunday where no goals were scored through regulation and overtime – Grand Rapids was able to score the opener inside of five minutes of the first period tonight. A great pass from right wing to left wing by Teemu Pulkkinen picked out a breaking Andrej Nestrasil. His shot went across the grain of a sliding Marek Mazanec to beat him high blocker side. That’s Nestrasil’s sixth goal of the season.
Then some rough stuff. Mike Liambas dropped the gloves with former-Admiral Triston Grant. They scrapped along the bench and, if we’re scoring this one, it was a solid win for Liambas who landed countless blows to the top of Grant’s exposed noggin. Fight Card: Liambas 10, Grant 9.
The Admirals power-play woes continued as they saw a two-man advantage for more than one-minute go to waste. The Admirals best chance from that came from Taylor Beck to, in close, beat Petr Mrazek high but nailed the far post. There was far too much passing, too much skating, and not enough shooting. It’s been the story of the Ads power-play all season long. To see it continually happen from a five-on-three situation is honestly a sad, sad sight to witness.
“A group that struggles in to score needs to certainly score on the power-play,” said Evason. “In the five-on-three, the shot from [Bryan Rodney] he has no idea where it is – hits him – Beck hits the post. We have a couple other opportunities throughout that sequence to score – we don’t. Our confidence level – you could just feel it on the bench it just was a sag. If a team that can’t score all of the sudden can’t score five-on-three on the [power-play] it really compounds your psyche right now. The littlest thing is hurting our mental outlook right now.”
The second period was cruising along until the final five minutes of the period. Grand Rapids was able to score two-goals against Mazanec in the space of 2:11 of ice time.
The Griffins second goal of the game came from a play that looked dangerously offsides as both Nestrasil and Calle Jarnkrok broke into the zone. Jarnkrok broke in hard and straight to the net and appeared ever so slightly offsides ahead of Nestrasil on the puck. The result was no offsides, a fluttering pass in-line with Jarnkrok from Nestrasil, and a chip over Mazanec for Jarnkrok’s twelfth goal of the season.
2:11 later, David McIntyre ripped a slaper from the left wing faceoff circle and the puck kicked out from Mazanec and into the net front presence of Trevor Parkes. It was a tap in after Mazanec made the initial save on the McIntyre shot. That was Parkes third goal of the season and it extended the Griffins lead to 3-0.
“It’s obviously frustrating,” said Anthony Bitetto. “You work so hard in practice. Played them Sunday – zero-zero tie – and then you come out and a couple bounces don’t go your way and it feels like you’re clawing the whole night.”
It was always going to be difficult for the Admirals to crawl out of a two period deficit of 3-0 against the likes of the Griffins. What happened in the opening minute to the start of the third period seemed like the Ads bought into that notion of hopelessness. They allowed two goals by Teemu Pulkkinen in the space of nine-seconds. Yes. Nine-seconds.
The first of the Pulkkinen bomb shots came off of a speed rush from the right wing. He hammered a slap shot to the high blocker-side, near post, and had Mazanec fooled completely.
Only nine-seconds later, same man – same spot on the ice – different choice to finish the slap shot. Pulkkinen wired another slapper by Mazanec and, this time, beat him low to the glove as Mazanec was cheating to the blocker side. When the puck went through Mazanec he was visibly irate with himself. For Pulkkinen he had goals twenty and twenty-one on his season before some fans returned to their seats with their late game burgers and chips.
“That’s what happens when your group is fragile,” cited Evason. “You come out of the intermission and think, if we get one here it’s a two-goal hockey game, and all of the sudden boom they score and it’s just game over.”
It was the third time this season that the Grand Rapids Griffins held a 5-0 lead over the Milwaukee Admirals: 11/20/13 @ Grand Rapids, 5-0… 12/14/13 @ Grand Rapids, 5-0.
“[Grand Rapids] is a good team,” said Bitetto. “They are well coached. They have four-lines that can play the game. Good goaltending. It’s going to take that extra step. Our hardest win right now is getting that first one back under our belt. That’s where we have to bear down and get that first win. We have a good team here. If every guy believes in that we’ll be fine.”
The Ads finally ended the scoreless streak at 127:18 when Kevin Henderson beat Mrazek with a huge assist to a screen from Mark Van Guilder. Henderson spun off of the right wing wall, scaled back around the faceoff circle, and tossed a puck to net. Mrazek clearly never saw the puck as he had his own defenseman and Van Guilder blocking his sight-line on Henderson – allowing for his seventh goal of the season.
Ramblings: Scott Ford and Marek Mazanec returned to the lineup tonight after missing last weekend’s three-in-three. Joonas Rask also returned to the team’s roster tonight after missing eight games with a left shoulder injury. The healthy scratches for tonight included Zach Budish and Scott Valentine.
Thoughts of this game? What needs to change? How do they get out of this funk? Can Pekka Rinne score goals?