Hellberg And Special Teams Key Admirals To Fourth Straight Win

(Photo credit:  Scott Paulus)

Magnus Hellberg’s confidence has got to be sky high right now.

Hellberg recorded his 9th win in his last 11 games, and the Admirals won a season high fourth game in a row, dropping the Grand Rapids Griffins 3-1 Saturday night.

With the win, the Admirals jump to 9th place in the conference, tied in points with 8th place Oklahoma City…who have played one less game.

Mark Van Guilder opened the scoring with his first goal since February 10th.  Taylor Beck’s shot from the right point had a huge rebound that kicked to MVG, who was skating along the left wing.  From a tough angle, Van Guilder swept a backhand shot around a sliding Chad Billins, and that shot ended up beating Petr Mrazek. (Van Guilder called a “sixth grade changeup” after the game)

The Griffins tied it up about two minutes into the second period, illustrating again why it’s important to win defensive zone face-offs.  Austin Watson lost a defensive zone face-off, and then a good low shot from the top of the left circle by Andrej Nestrasil beat Magnus Hellberg stick-side.

I know there are lots of folks that love to dump on the Milwaukee power play…but they’ve scored a power play goal in four of their last five games.  Juuso Puustinen had the honors tonight, with a shot from the point that went off of the right post and into the net at 10:19 of the second period.

About four minutes later, Triston Grant and Max Nicastro made like a scene from Benny Hill, colliding with each other and falling down.  Josh Shalla picked up the puck and went in on a breakaway.  His shot went 5-hole on Mrazek for his first career AHL goal (he previously scored the game winner in a shootout….also against Mrazek).

Michael Latta grabbed the puck for him.

And then the Admirals threw a parade.  There were floats, high school marching bands, and Admirals players following the parade route to their penalty box.  The officials (the ever popular Shaun Davis and Mark Lemelin) hadn’t called a ton of stuff to that point, but whistled the Admirals at 16:36, 18:24, and 19:18.  The Griffins had a couple of 5-on-3 chances there, but the Admirals did well to kill everything off.  Hellberg was sharp, and shots were being blocked before they made it to him.

What a momentum changer that was…after that last penalty was killed off.

Coming into tonight, the Griffins sported the 3rd best road power play in the league, and had scored a power play goal against the Admirals in all six of their previous meetings.  They went 0-5 tonight.


-Here’s one of Hellberg’s best saves of the game, stopping a short-handed chance in the second period.

– Admirals dressed seven defensemen again…same lineup as Wednesday night.  There’s a good chance Mike Liambas will be ready to go next weekend.

– Admirals now 14-8-0-1 when scoring a power play goal.

– Griffin’s five-game win streak is snapped.  Admirals lead season series against the division leader 4-3, with one game left in Grand Rapids on April 12th.

– Austin Watson….now 16 straight games without a goal.  Hope he snaps out of it next weekend.  Had 8 shots on goal tonight, though.  For a team that sometimes tends to pass up shots, it’s nice to see a crooked number like that from a guy.

Scoreboard watching:

The Rivermen did us a favor and shutout the IceHogs 4-0….Andre Bouvet-Morrissette netted his first AHL goal in that one.  Toronto dropped Rochester 6-1, and that helps us too.  Even though we don’t play Rochester during the regular season, we’re chasing them in the conference standings, and sit just two points behind them now.  We’re just two points out of 6th place.

18 thoughts on “Hellberg And Special Teams Key Admirals To Fourth Straight Win”

  1. Good offense. I was offended by Shaun “Of the Dead From the Neck Up” Davis, but he is always like that. Lemelin is his brother in crime. Minor leaguers for life.

  2. Good hit by Grant, he really shook up Nicastro! That shorthanded save by Hellberg is the first time I remember seeing somebody beat Bitteto on the outside.

  3. The Ads came out again looking like they actually prepared themselves to play. After basically taking candy from a baby on Wednesday, this game proved that they CAN run with the big dogs. But only if they WANT to run with them. Despite the win, there were several things that were irksome. Beck spent more effort to try magical, mystical maneuvers that didn’t pan out. K.I.S.S. method, Mr. Beck. I didn’t feel that Latta was very effective tonight either.

    The one thing that worked really well tonight was constantly shadowing and breaking the puck away from the Griffs.

    Hellberg was solid in net. I expect that his improvement will spell the exit of Smith before the start of next season.

    With 2 more points under their belts, maybe the stars are starting to align for them. Let’s hope that’s the case.

  4. Solid win vs a team that really tried hard the whole game. I feel the biggest moment for the ads is one many may have overlooked.
    In the past when this team has let in a fast goal or given up a lead the feeling I get from them is one of “oh darn that sucks” and they play scatter brain and panicky. Not tonight henderson’s line came on after the goal and outplayed and hustled GR the whole shift giving them no momentum. I feel that helped reset the tone of the game. Henderson won a lot of little battles on the ice for pucks and scrappy play along the boards. Now with a span of time without a game let’s see how they handle it friday.

  5. I agree with frontrowjon – the shift after the GR goal was key. Good job by the team for coming out strong!

    I thought Latta had a good game. He was being pesky on the forecheck throughout most of the game and causing problems for GR moving the puck cleanly out of their own zone.

    With Nashville playing like crap and the injuries starting to pile up, I hope they don’t call up anyone else and disrupt our current team chemistry. Seems like everyone is finally playing well right now!

  6. Also just saw on Twitter that Jeff Foss said he’s been cleared to play! So we do have another defenseman available if needed! :)

  7. I liked this game a lot. I think the dust has settled and the coach and players are on the same page. I really liked Latta’s game. He was all over the ice and I think he’s an exceptional teammate. I think he does a lot more for the team off the ice than on, sometimes. Don’t know for sure-just my feelings from his constant Twitter praise for his teammates.
    I have a real problem with Beck. While I think he is talented, he’s a bit of a puck hog. He is constantly hanging and dangling and holding the puck for far too long. Don’t get me wrong, I would rather have him than not but he doesn’t always seem aware that there are 4 other guys on the ice with him.
    Watson is good, real good. Needs to break out of his drought soon though with some puck luck.
    Happy St. Paddy’s Day everyone!

  8. I have to agree with Ouch about Smitty. I have thought it before, and I think alluded to it on this site before, almost certain Nashville will not sign him to another contract. I would bet they have Hellberg stay with the Ads for another year, so curious to see what they do as a backup for Rinne next season. It is a shame about Smitty. He was really good most of the past two seasons. I don’t know if he has lost his confidence or what, but he is not the Smitty of old. Maybe he was too cocky this season. Much to his dismay, I think he will end up playing next year in the AHL as well.

  9. Hey just a little off topic but I just wanted to thank you Ryan for your great blog. I come here and read your write ups right after game day. Thanks for the prompt updates and getting discussions flowing.

  10. Off topic – big fight at the end of the Wolves/Hogs game today… thanks to Wolfkeeper for the video:

  11. I wouldn’t be so sure about Smith. Mason only signed a 1 year deal with NSH right? If that’s the case, unless they resign him or pull in another FA in the off season, we’d be seeing one of these two going up which means next year we would probably see the 1-2 punch of Hellberg or Smith and Zoltan. I could easily see him back again next year, and if not, because he’s offered a better deal elsewhere.

  12. He was. No matter what happens, the goalie situation next season will be interesting.

  13. I’d agree that Hetenyi is a pucked-duck. He’ll travel through a criminal suit and likely face fines and deportation, then a civil suit that will cost him dearly.

    Looks like the Preds got rid of him just in time.

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