Another early April trip to North Carolina might’ve been just what the Ads needed to get rolling.
Ryan Ellis’ fifth goal of the season gave his team the edge in a close contest decided in overtime.
Milwaukee kept its postseason hopes alive and kicking, as the 3-2 win got the Admirals back into the playoff picture. With OKC’s win over Chicago today, the Ads currently own the eighth spot after starting the day in ninth place.
Despite losing yet another huge piece in Austin Watson, Milwaukee’s offense had a nice showing with 34 total shots, but Magnus Hellberg was even more impressive in net.
In his third start in three days the big goalie stopped 34 of 36 Charlotte shots, improving his record to 17-12-0.
Milwaukee needed him to stand tall right out of the gates as the Checkers outshot the Ads 15-6 in the first period.
Hellberg made some huge saves to keep Charlotte off the board for the first 28 minutes, but the Checkers finally got one past him at 8:54 of the second. Eric Baier scored his first goal of the season, firing a wrister from the right circle after taking a great pass from Zach Boychuk.
Milwaukee would quickly help out Hellberg, however, rallying back to take the lead before the end of the period.
Scott Valentine skated in along the boards to the left dot and beat John Muse between his glove and the right post with a slapper. It was Valentine’s sixth of the season and second in his third game at left wing.
Daniel Bang scored the go-ahead goal at 16:35, shooting, rather than passing, from the left circle on a 2-on-1 rush with Brad Winchester. The shot beat Muse between his legs for Bang’s eighth goal of the season.
After Milwaukee won the shots battle 13-8 in the second period, both teams combined for 23 shots in the final 20 minutes.
Hellberg tried valiantly to hold on to the 2-1 lead, but Charlotte tied the game at 12:30. Brody Sutter was able to put a rebound through Hellberg’s legs to eventually send the game to the extra period.
Despite losing the lead, the Admirals finished strong in overtime, outshooting Charlotte 4-1. Ellis’ goal came at 3:20 after he took a pass from Mark Van Guilder.
He pulled off a beautiful move in front of the Charlotte netminder and slid the puck right across the goal line to light both the green and red lamps.
Scott Ford played his 294th game with Milwaukee, which tied Kelsey Wilson for the most games played for the Admirals in the team’s AHL history. Good on Fordo, as he’ll likely set the team record this Friday in Grand Rapids.
The Ads played a disciplined game allowing just one power play, but they meanwhile couldn’t score on five such attempts.
With an assist on Bang’s goal, Juuso Puustinen extended his point streak to six games. Ellis’ goal was his first since returning the Admirals’ roster Saturday.
What did the second period rally say to you about this team’s sense of urgency? It’s been called into question often this season, but did the Ads show they’re locked in and ready to make a serious run at this thing?
Valentine continues to impress at wing, but with the loss of Watson who else needs to rise up on the offensive end in this final push?
As we said, last season’s team won two big games in Charlotte last spring, but this team did it faced with the added adversity of a constantly changing roster. What impresses you about this team’s ability to step up compared to 2011-12’s playoff squad?