As a writer always looking for symbols during a long American Hockey League season, Saturday night’s 3-2 loss provided plenty. (Video highlights here courtesy of the Edmonton Oilers website)
The game played out much like the entire season to date for Milwaukee. The first period played out like the first third of the Admirals 2011-2012 campaign, with Milwaukee taking a 1-0 lead after a solid effort. Admirals defenseman Victor Bartley buried a power play marker at 9:56 after a perfect setup from forwards Chris Mueller and Kyle Wilson, who picked up assists.
The second period matched the middle stretch of the season for Milwaukee, with one Admirals goal countered with three unanswered by Oklahoma City. Jani Lajunen picked up his third of the season at 9:14 of the middle frame, but Barons defenseman Bryan Rodney (acquired last week via trade), Philippe Cornet and Teemu Hartikainen all countered for the hosts. In the period Oklahoma City peppered Milwaukee goaltender Atte Engren with 17 shots, which led to the three Barons tallies. Rodney’s goal was a point blast through a screen, Cornet’s a top-shelf snipe on a breakaway, while Hartikainen took advantage of a defensive zone break down by the Admirals.
If the season symbolism follows the third period, Milwaukee will miss the playoffs. The Admirals lacked desperation trying to comeback, getting out shot 12-8, leaving the score at 3-2 in favor of the Barons. For the second straight night a team blew a 2-0 lead in the game.
Engren finished with 34 saves in an impressive effort for Milwaukee. It was a quiet night for Oklahoma City goaltender David LeNeveu, who stopped 22 of 24 shots.
Two of the Barons goals came on the power play, both after delay of game penalties for Milwaukee (including one by Engren). The Admirals took five penalties compared to Oklahoma City’s one, and four of the five Milwaukee minors were avoidable–not a good sign for a team with penalty kill that continues to struggle (Maybe Hal Gill can suit up a game or two for the Admirals).
The loss keeps Milwaukee in 10th place, holding a record of 26-22-2-1 for 55 points. Eighth place San Antonio holds a 27-22-2-1 record for 57 points with one more game played.
So Roundtable . . . Considering the effort from Engren, and a 2-0 lead, was Saturday night a missed opportunity for Milwaukee? Do you feel better about the Admirals’ future after a split at Oklahoma City, or does the second period let down tonight sour the mood? If you were coach Herbers, how do you handle the starts in goal going forward?