After Friday’s game, Coach Dean Evason said he’d keep Matt Halischuk as long as Nashville wanted.
The right winger, who was sent down to Milwaukee this week on a conditioning assignment, made a big impact in the Admirals’ 4-3 victory netting the game-tying and go-ahead goals in the third period.
Kevin Henderson got the Ads off to a quick start thanks to a great play from Michael Latta. Latta was able to maintain possession of the puck after entering the Chicago zone and steer around a defender to feed Henderson who shot it from the slot.
Mark Matheson scored his fifth goal of the season and third against the Admirals at 9:47 to tie things up. Bill Sweatt’s shot was blocked, but the puck came free to Matheson in the slot and he quickly put it past Jeremy Smith.
The Wolves took the lead 2:01 into the second period when Darren Archibald shot the puck past Mattias Ekholm and over the left side of Smitty.
Ekholm didn’t have a great night, but captain Mike Moore and former captain Scott Ford, who played his first Bradley Center game since returning to the Ads, picked up the slack on defense. Moore made more than a few key blocks and did a nice job shutting down some breaks, while Ford’s quiet leadership was present according to Evason.
Evason has talked about the team struggles to score and come back in games, but down 2-1 at the start of the third period, the Ads had already registered 26 shots on net.
Halischuk had been trying to make things happen from the start of the game, and he was finally rewarded on a deflection in front of Matt Climie 43 seconds into the third period. The goal came on a power play after Derek Joslin was called for tripping.
Later in the period, Smitty was leveled by Nathan Longpre while trying to play the puck. Longpre was inadvertently shoved into the Ads goalie by Juuso Puustinen, and the impact knocked Smitty’s helmet off.
Smith shook it off and stayed in net, making some key saves down the stretch.
If Halischuk’s first goal had anything to do with luck, his second was all skill. He fired a great shot from the goal line that didn’t have a lot of room to work with, but squeezed through just under the crossbar at 10:18.
Puustinen would pick up an insurance goal about four minutes later that would pay dividends. Puusty was able to score on Milwaukee’s third attempt in a wild sequence, as Cam Reid and Taylor Beck’s shots were both denied by Climie.
Chicago pulled Climie with 1:24 remaining and put one in on a 6-4 advantage with 29.5 seconds on the clock. Smitty gave up a rebound that Andrew Ebbett was able to chip home to narrow the deficit to 4-3.
Smitty and the Ads were able to hold on in the final moments, however, as their aggressive defense kept the Wolves at bay.
Despite the late PP goal, the Ads special teams played quite well, particularly on a late kill in which they generated three odd-man shorthanded rushes. One was an all-out hustle play by Halischuk, who was thinking hat trick all the way, along with everyone else in the building.
Evason talked about the team’s aggression on the kill and its improvement from games past.
Joonas Jarvinen was active and physical early but picked up three penalties that luckily didn’t hurt the team all that much.
Evason talked about Halischuk’s impact and whether or not it rubbed off on the rest of the roster.
The win came on a nice night for Victor Bartley as he played his first game in the NHL in Nashville. He got a block and a hit in just over 19 minutes of ice time. Good on him!
In that same game, Patric Hornqvist left with injury, meaning we might not see much more of Halischuk in Milwaukee.
Do the Ads win this game if Halischuk isn’t in the lineup? As mentioned we probably shouldn’t get too caught up in it considering he likely won’t be here long. Do you think the team takes anything from his showing?
Besides him did you like what you saw from Ford and Beck back in the lineup? How about Moore’s night? He definitely played up to the standards of that “C” on his chest.
Do you feel the team can keep that intensity we saw on the late penalty kills up? It’s a theme that Evason seems ready to work with.