The Houston Aeros had won 11 straight playoff games that had gone in to overtime.
A new streak has started, courtesy of a Kelsey Wilson deflection 1:01 into the extra session, as the Admirals forced a game seven after a 5-4 win over Houston Sunday evening.
Ryan Thang’s shot from the point was deflected by Wilson as he was being worked over by Drew Bagnall in front of Aero goaltender Matt Hackett.
“He’s a real important piece for our team in terms of his character and his leadership,” Coach Lambert said. “Since he has come back in game 5 of the Texas series, he’s played good hockey for us.”
Wilson’s goal capped a rollercoaster of a game that saw the Admirals score the first three goals, Houston score the next four, and then the Admirals score the final two.
“The game is 60 minutes, and they’re a good a hockey team,” Coach said. “We did a good job getting ourselves a lead. I thought we made a couple little mistakes and the puck ended up in the back of our net, and we just had to focus and regroup.”
The Admirals scored their first two goals with a little help from Aeros goaltender Matt Hackett. Ryan Ellis scored his first pro goal with a shot from the point that went off of Hackett’s pads and trickled in next to the near post.
Gabriel Bourque scored his sixth of the playoffs with a shot from the far face-off circle that Hackett saved, but he lost where it went, and ended up kicking it into the net with his skate.
The Admirals made it a 3-nil lead with a power play goal from Roman Josi early in the 2nd period. From the top of the near face-off circle, Mark Van Guilder had a wide open passing line, and fed a cross-ice pass to Kelsey Wilson. He tapped it back just a touch to Josi who was pinching, and his shot beat Hackett top-right corner.
The rest of the period belonged to the Aeros, and the turning point seemed to be a bizarre play involving Roman Josi and the goalie Hackett. During play, Josi was pushed into Hackett, and an Aeros defender and Hackett proceeded to take some shots at Josi. Josi got back to his skates, only to be knocked down again. Lots of chirping back and forth between the two teams. While skating away Josi gave a soft shot to Hackett, who then followed Josi and an official to the far corner. And Hackett gave a pretty hard shot back to Josi. Leaving the crease to be part of an altercation? Some goalies would be tossed for such an action. Instead, Hackett and Maxim Noreau got two each for roughing, and Josi got two for goaltender interference and two for roughing. We proceeded 5-on-5.
About four and half minutes later the Aeros put the first of three dents into the scoreboard in the period. Taking advantage of an AWFUL long line change, Jarod Palmer had a shot from the slot that beat Jeremy Smith. It was helpful that another Aero forward set a pick to take two Admirals out of the play, but it was a great shot by Palmer.
Noreau scored less than a minute later on a shot from the point that flat out beat Smitty, while there were five Admirals just standing around watching the play.
Jon DiSalvatore scored a power play goal amidst a lot of waving sticks, and Chris Mueller being a little late coming back to pick him up. Nice pass by O’Sullivan and nice finish by DiSalvatore.
So we went to the third period, and the question was, who was going to come out with the most urgency? The team on the verge of clinching, or the team on the verge of their season ending.
The Aeros ended up controlling most of the play, and were able to take the lead at the 9:32 mark of the period. After a faceoff, there was a scramble in front of Jeremy Smith. Smitty was on his belly, and the puck was sitting in the crease just to the right of his elbow. Patrick O’Sullivan was there to tap it in. The fourth unanswered goal for the Aeros.
“They gained momentum obviously, and they ended up taking the lead,” Coach Lambert said. “We had a huge push from our guys. I thought the Aaron Johnson hit helped turn things around a little bit in the third period. We started getting back to playing physical like we were in the first period.”
And then with 4:44 left in the period, Chris Mueller was able to stop the bleeding. Mueller picked off a clearing attempt in the offensive zone, but couldn’t control the puck. Ryan Thang worked to get it, and then tapped it back over to Mueller, who had relocated to the slot. His shot beat Hackett.
They allow 20 minutes for the overtime period, but the Admirals needed just the 61 seconds. After controlling the first shift of overtime, the Admirals scored after the line change.
“I think our guys rose to that challenge and made sure that we stayed focused,” Coach said.
NOTES & QUESTIONS
Flynn – Bartlett – Begin
Wilson – Mueller – Thang
Bourque – Van Guilder – Thuresson
Ryan – Hunter – Santorelli
Teemu Laakso did indeed return to the ice, and Grant Lewis was scratched in his stead.
Ryan Ellis’ head was the recipient of a demonstration of Newton’s 3rd law of physics. Andreas Thuresson had a big hit on Justin Falk along the boards. Ellis was pinching down, tried to also hit Falk, and 6’5 Falk’s shoulder met 5’10 Ellis’ noggin. Ellis stayed on the ice for about half a minute, but skated to the bench on his own power, and after a trip to the locker room, hit the ice again later in the 3rd period.
Speaking of Ellis, I thought he played a pretty good game. He looked a little more comfortable in the offensive zone, and was able to bail himself and some teammates out on some rushes against Smitty.
There was lots of Aero contact with Smitty, but I think he did his fair share of hamming it up too. Still, he did get peppered a few times.
The three stars were all messed up. They presented Wilson, Josi, and Mueller….and the box score says Wilson, O’Sullivan and Smitty. DiSalvatore had a great game, and had a goal and two assists. Noreau was sharp. Thang had four assists. Meh. There are worse things to pick on.
Who stood out for you tonight?
Did you think they had it in them?
Happy to see Laakso back? Bummed that Lewis was the odd man out?
Thoughts on the power play performance? 2 for 4 for the good guys. Anyone toasting some Mountain Fury right now? Weren’t we supposed to do some kind of giveaways for that stuff? I’ll have a word with Sutty….he’s our fake director of corporate sponsorship.
Admirals still outshot….33-23 tonight. For the series, Admirals have been outshot 203-128 in the six games. Nice save % numbers for Smitty….but that’s really the only silver lining to that.
Anything else you’d like to share about the game?
See you Tuesday.