Milwaukee’s four-game road trip began and ended with losses in Lake Erie, as the Monsters brought the Admirals’ two-game win streak to a halt Tuesday.
Magnus Hellberg got his third straight start in net, and suffered his first loss in six games despite stopping 31 shots.
Hellberg wasn’t helped much by the rest of the team as all three goals came with the man-advantage. The Ads allowed eight power play opportunities, while failing to score on five power plays of their own.
At the other end of the ice, Calvin Pickard continued to stymie Milwaukee’s attack stopping 27 shots. In three games against Milwaukee this season, Pickard has stopped 91 of 94 shots.
David van der Gulik was a Milwaukee killer again, scoring two goals including the game-winner.
Cam Reid picked up the first penalty of his AHL career 7:35 into the game, going to the box for slashing. Up to that point, Reider had played 30 games without a penalty, an Admirals team record. Unfortunately his first trip to Johnson’s office was a costly one.
27 seconds into the ensuing power play, van der Gulik put the Monsters on the board, slapping in a rebound off a Karl Stollery shot.
At 17:50, Chris Mueller had the answer for the Admirals, forcing a turnover and eventually firing a shot from the slot to beat Pickard on the break.
Despite his team giving up five power play chances in the first 20 minutes and being outshot 13-5, Hellberg kept the Ads in the game early with just the one goal heading into the first intermission.
The Ads stole some momentum back in the second period, outshooting Lake Erie 14-8, but Pickard wouldn’t yield the go-ahead goal.
Mike Sgarbossa, who assisted on the first van der Gulik goal, was tossed from the game after committing a dirty slashing penalty at 12:22. It was established that his penalty came with the deliberate intent to injure.
In the third period, van der Gulik picked up his second power play goal at the 5:26 mark, after an interference call on Mike Moore.
Cameron Gaunce fired a shot from the point and van der Gulik was able to tip it past Hellberg to give the Monsters the 2-1 lead.
With the Admirals trying to tie it up again late, Scott Valentine picked up a slashing penalty at 16:14 and an unsportsmanlike conduct call was tacked onto that.
The result was another power play goal to all but put the game out of reach for Milwaukee.
Bill Thomas made it a two-goal deficit with 2:14 to play, grabbing a rebound and beating Hellberg short side for his 19th goal of the season.
The loss set Milwaukee back in the playoff race, as it’s now three points behind Chicago for the eight spot in the West.
Brian McGrattan was called back up to Nashville before the game and placed on waivers. Mark Van Guilder missed again with injury, and we’ll keep you updated on his status.
Michael Latta and Kevin Henderson each fired five shots to lead the team, but neither could find the back of the net against Pickard.
The Admirals were unable to score on a five-minute power play following Sgarbossa debacle. Both teams combined for a whopping 48 penalty minutes in a very unevenly played contest.
The team finally wasn’t able to rally behind Hellberg. It’s hard to argue that he played well despite giving up three goals, but again the big goalie did make 31 saves and all three against him came a man down.
Did he look “bad” to you, or was this one more on the rest of the team?
Unlike the wins in Hamilton and Toronto, the Admirals played a lot more undisciplined Tuesday. It’s very difficult to win a game when you give up eight power plays. That being said, the Monsters were far from model citizens, but the Admirals couldn’t capitalize.
In short, I’d argue the Ads didn’t lose because they gave up a lot of power plays, rather they lost because the Monsters were simply better at utilizing the man-advantage.
Why do you think that is? Power plays are obviously supposed to provide an advantage, but on a consistent basis the Admirals have had better luck at even strength than against a shorthanded defense.