Another day, another stunning performance in net by Magnus Hellberg. The big goalie picked up his second shutout this month and won his sixth in a row as Milwaukee won again in the great white north 2-0.
Hamilton outshot the Ads in the first period 11-7, but Hellberg started strong, keeping the game scoreless.
Hellberg helped the Ads withstand two first-period power play opportunities from Hamilton, and the penalty kill would shine as a unit throughout the game.
Sticks were flying in second period as Kevin Henderson went to the box for high sticking at 8:19, while Louis Leblanc, Joonas Jarvinen and Gabriel Dumont would all pick up slashing calls.
The Ads would fail to score on a power play chance of their own, but they broke through at even strength three minutes after the midway point.
Juuso Puustinen got the Ads on the board with his ninth of the year. Puusty scooped up a rebound off a Henderson shot from the right circle, picking it out of the skates of defender Nathan Beaulieu.
The shot was a pretty one as the puck snuck in just under the crossbar, beating 2012 Calder Cup Champion Dustin Tokarski. With the goal Puusty became just the 29th player in the Admirals’ AHL history to score 25 goals in a Milwaukee jersey.
That would be the only goal on the board until the final eight seconds when Chris Mueller sent home an empty-netter for his team-leading 17th goal of the season.
Hellberg finished the night with 25 saves, which is a decently low total considering Hamilton had four power play chances and two minutes of four-on-four play.
After the 11 shots in the first, Hellberg faced just seven each in the second and third. The defense helped him out and kept the shots manageable, and when you do that it obviously makes it easier on your netminder.
Brian McGrattan got a lot more involved with four shots on net to lead the team in that category.
Mark Van Guilder missed the game and reportedly needs to see the doctor. That’s all we know at this point and we’ll continue to keep you posted.
The win at Copps Colliseum was Milwaukee’s first since December 15, 2009 breaking a streak of three winless trips to Hamilton.
The team continued to play well with Hellberg in net. He kept the hot hand in his second start in two days. His February GAA is now at 1.10 and his save percentage is at .958.
The Ads won their second in three games. That’s becoming the standard, even if it’s so far been a fairly small sample size. With 56 points, the Ads are now three points behind Lake Erie for that eighth spot. They’ll get a chance to narrow that gap Tuesday against the Monsters.
We’ve talked about Hellberg’s stats, but what do you think has spurred the team to perform better with him in net? Again, its not like the offense has been overwhelming.
Dean Evason talked a few games ago about his offense being “opportunistic” which has been the story in the last two victories. Does that seem like a fair expectation to you, or do you feel that the team should be scoring more based on overall talent level?
Is Hellberg giving up one or two goals on average the rest of the way going to be enough for Milwaukee to eek into the playoffs? It’s tough to think he’ll keep this standard of play up every start.
What else does this team need to do to keep rolling down the stretch, starting with Tuesday in Lake Erie?