Juuso Puustinen scored a late power play goal to give the Admirals some breathing room. And they needed every inch of it.
The Wolves answered with a score of their own after pulling their goalie, and then the Admirals found themselves killing a penalty in the final minute. But Magnus Hellberg and the Admirals defense held on to knock off Chicago 4-3 Saturday night in Rosemont.
The win gives the Admirals sole possession of 7th place in the Western Conference, and was their EIGHTH of the year against the Wolves.
Puustinen’s goal made it a 4-2 lead with 3:35 left in the game, and Coach Evason says that it was a huge conversion.
It was the second power play goal on the night for the Admirals, as earlier in the game the Mattias Ekholm-Austin Watson connection scored again. Ekholm with the shot from the point, Watson deflected it past Matt Climie. I’d say it’s about the third time we’ve seen that scenario in the last few weeks. Here’s Watson on their success.
That power play goal gave the Admirals a 1-0 lead 8:54 into the game.
Darren Haydar evened it up about five minutes later with a wrist shot from the top of the far circle that while well placed, I think Hellberg would want back.
In the second period, Daniel Bang got credit for a goal, but Patrick Cehlin did all the heavy lifting. Moments after a Cam Reid penalty expired, Cehlin got around Brad Hunt on the left wing and made a strong move to the net. He couldn’t get the shot on net once he got there, but the puck came right to Bang, who was there to finish.
I mentioned that there was a Cam Reid penalty. That was the first of five Chicago power plays that the Admirals had to kill that period. Reid for a hook. Latta for a trip. Jarvinen for a board. Winchester for giving Brett Sterling what he deserved, but getting called for it. And then Ford for a retaliation fist swing at the back of Guillaume Desbiens’ head (that one carried over into the third).
The Admirals killed off all of them but one. A Kevin Connauton shot from the point that beat a screened Hellberg at 15:27 of the second.
Coach Evason was overall happy with the penalty kill, but not so happy about how often they were needed.
The Wolves dominated play early in the third, and the Admirals didn’t get their first shot on goal until the 7:25 mark. But it was a goal. Austin Watson intercepted a pass in the Wolves zone, and then sent the puck towards the net from the right wing. It went off of Jeremie Blain’s skate and in the net.
An interference penalty on Jim Vandermeer set up the late Milwaukee power play, and Puustinen’s shot from the bottom of the far circle just dribbled past Climie.
They dressed seven defensemen tonight. Winchester was double shifting early on, but others took their turn to center that last line.
– The was a scare at the end of the game, as once again, our goaltender was at the bottom of a pile of hockey players. As the final seconds ticked off, Brett Sterling took a healthy whack at Hellberg after a save with no rebound. Then with the help of some Admiral defenders and the laws of physics, Sterling ended up on top of Hellberg. And that little scrum is how the game ended. It’s in the replay package below.
– Sterling was a pest all night, and was responsible for drawing multiple Admiral penalties.
– This was the Admirals’ 24th win against a division opponent. That’s tops in the league. They’re 8-1-1-0 in their last 10 games.
– We had a goaltender dress as #1 for the first time since….geez, I don’t know. Drew MacIntyre? Andrew D’Agostini was signed to an ATO today after Jeremy Smith was injured in Rockford last night. D’Agostini was a former teammate of Austin Watson, and he was surprised when he heard that D’Agostini got the call today.
This will probably be D’Agostini’s only game with Milwaukee for now. Here’s Coach Evason with an update on Smitty, and what they’re looking at for this week.
So this week? It’s the Rockford and Charlotte show, is what it is. A pair of games against each. Home game Friday, and then fly to Charlotte for a game on Saturday. One of the more unpleasant schedule quirks this season, but I’m sure there are some Western Conference teams that have those quirks a little more often….so we’ll just make it work.
– What do you attribute this in-division success to? Is it just rivalries giving them a little extra push in their compete levels?
– Do you think Magnus Hellberg is ready for it to be the Magnus Hellberg Show around here if Smitty is out for a long stretch?
– With the team playing so well right now, do you want to tell Nashville to just keep Mueller and Beck and Bartley? We’re fine?
– Sterling is a nuisance….but do you think you could ever love him if he wore an Admirals uniform?