Heading into the All-Star break, the Admirals have the best record in the conference.
In front of a sell-out crowd in Rockford, the Admirals blew a two goal lead, but prevailed in overtime with a Roman Josi slider 2:23 into the extra time.
Josi carried the puck through the neutral zone, had space to enter the offensive zone, and then threw a junkball at relief goaltender Alec Richards. Or maybe we can liken the play to a passed ball by the catcher. Whatever metaphor you like, it was a wonky shot that elevated the Admirals to their second straight win, and some great momentum hitting the All-Star break.
Josi’s skill set is tailor-made for 4-on-4 hockey.
“I think our team 4-on-4 does a pretty good job managing the puck,” coach Lambert said after the game. “We turn back, we don’t give it away, we keep puck possession, and that’s the thing that Josi is really talented at. That forum for him to play 4-on-4 with a little bit of extra ice suits him very well. You know, he took a shot, and it dropped. A shot is never a bad play, and I think we passed up some shots as a team, which we didn’t do last night.”
The Ads got off to another quick start and had a 2-0 lead before the game was six minutes old.
Blake Geoffrion kept his hot streak going, beating starting goaltender Hannu Toivonen from the low slot, finishing a bang-bang play off a Grant Lewis pass from behind the net.
Mike Bartlett doubled the lead ten seconds later. He threw the puck towards the net from a bad angle in the far corner, and it somehow got by Toivonen. Ryan “Don’t Call Me Matt” Flynn had just arrived to the near goalpost, and his presence might have been just enough to open up some room for the shot, or at least a deflection.
That ended Toivonen’s night 5:44 into the game. Enter Alec Richards, who gave up four goals last night in Grand Rapids.
Coach Lambert was pleased with yet another quick start.
“We’ve stressed starting the game (well), and if you look at our record when we score first, it’s pretty darn good. We’ve had some real good starts in a lot of hockey games lately, and it’s helped us win those games.”
Richards and Dex kept the pucks out of their nets for the rest of the period, which saw the IceHogs outshoot the Admirals 13-5.
In the 2nd, Rockford capitalized on a power play that I’m not sure should have been a power play. Kelsey Wilson participated in some mutual shoving in front of the IceHogs goal after the whistle, but only Wilson went to the box for roughing. The cynic in me thinks it was meant to be a make-up call. Earlier in the period, Teemu Laakso got away with a boarding play, and when Evan Brophey took exception, only Brophey went to the box. Still, I think our friend Shaun Davis should have kept things even instead of sending Wilson to the box for
On that power play, Jeff Taffe was alone in the high slot, and he rifled a shot past Dekanich off a pass from Mathis Olimb, who was working along the near boards.
With 38.3 seconds left in the period, the IceHogs were awarded a penalty shot, after Rob Klinkhammer was taken down on a breakaway. But on his penalty shot, he didn’t even get a shot away, allowing the Admirals to dodge a huge bullet in the waning moments of the period.
Late in the 3rd period, the IceHogs were able to draw even. Mathis Olimb was credited with a pinball-esque goal. It was a few seconds of just chaos, with Blake Geoffrion sliding along the ice, ultimately taking out one of his teammates, and the puck changing direction a few times on its way past Dekanich.
Josi’s OT goal was his fourth in five games, and kept a five-game point streak alive.
– Lines were the same as last night, except Aaron Johnson was scratched, and Mark Santorelli played on the line with Bartlett and Flynn.
Johnson is day-to-day, but they’re hoping he’ll be ready to play Friday.
Steve Begin is out long term with a lower body injury. I don’t think we had touched on that yet.
– Coming off yesterday’s laugher, Coach Lambert was concerned about a possible let down.
“I think we had a lot of emotion in last nights game. I was somewhat concerned that after you have such a high that you have trouble getting back to that level. I thought our opponent was really good tonight, and I thought we did a good job of finding a way to win.”
– This wasn’t a great game for our defensemen. Jon Blum in particular had quite the mixed bag of nice plays and botched plays in his end. He was okay in front of his net, but engaging a puck-carrier along the boards, he was not good at all. If he played the puck, he missed it. If he played the body, they went around him, resulting in someone else needing to compensate. A bad Teemu Laakso decision led to the Klinkhammer breakaway and eventual penalty shot.
But Mark “I just bailed you out” Dekanich is the reason why the Admirals won this game. 27 saves on 29 shots, many of which weren’t of the run-of-the-mill variety.
– So I mentioned that we’re in first place. In fairness….please be advised that 6th place is just two points behind in the standings.
Linus Klasen and Dekanich will head off to Hershey for the All-Star game festivities. Time Warner Sports 32 will have the broadcast to see how they do.
– If you made the trip, do you like the neon lights that shine below the zambonis? The house lights are dimmed during the intermissions after the games are done, I hadn’t seen before.
– Do you think Mueller and Halischuk will be gone on Tuesday?
– What is the ONE thing that the Admirals need to work on most during this break to ensure that they will have more success after the break? I know there’s lots of stuff….but just give me one thing that you think is the most important right now.