The Admirals posted a 4-0 shutout over the San Antonio Rampage Friday night. It was a 34-save shutout from Scott Darling for his second shutout and fourth win of the season. The headline into this game, Filip Forsberg, also made a massive splash in his first return to game action in over a month. Forsberg scored two power-play goals en route to a highly successful night for the Ads as a group.
“[Filip Forsberg] is such a gifted goal scorer,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “Obviously we’ve struggled a little bit to score some goals here. Certainly in our last two games. Our power-play was 0/9 in our last game. To have a goal scorer, a pure pure goal scorer, inserted into your lineup – an NHL goal scorer to boot – injects a lot of life into your group.”
Taylor Beck scored his sixth goal of the season to open this game up in the first period. Beck played off the near wall on a two-on-one opportunity with Simon Moser on the left wing and Rampage d-man John Lee between them. Beck maintained a shooting posture, stuttered a bit, and fired high glove against netminder Michael Houser for a silky smooth finish on the goal.
After a questionable hit from Mathieu Tousignant on Steve Pinizzotto, the two decided it best to have at one-another in the corner. It was somewhat more of a tussle than a fight. Some good punches thrown. Not sure if any exactly landed, but Pinizzotto skated off the victory of that exchange in my book.
San Antonio did manage to light the lamp – if only momentarily. The Rampage ransacked the net, running into Scott Darling in goal, and saw their goal –not only disallowed– but sent Eric Selleck to the box for goaltender interference.
The Ads capitalized off of the Selleck penalty with one heck of a goal by newbie Vinny Saponari. The twenty-three year old winger powered in from the left wing wall, held off a defender, and stickhandled his way toward goal and right past Houser in net.
“Great hands,” said Evason of Vinny Saponari. “He’s making plays, he’s scoring, but as importantly he’s not turning any pucks over. He’s getting pucks out on the wall. Making good decisions. Making good passes. Not only offensively but defensively to exit out of our zone. We’ve liked his entire game so far.”
Instantly off of that goal we were given an early fight of the season candidate. Scott Ford went toe-to-toe with the “goaltending interference” miscreant Selleck and the two hammered each other with some bombs. Give the win to Ford – and get ready for YouTube.
The Ads power-play, which struggled big time against Grand Rapids last weekend, was at it yet again to put an exclamation mark on the second period. This time it was Filip Forsberg who answered – marking his return to game action with a power-play goal. The Swede was stationed on the left wall primed to shoot during his shifts on the power-play. This goal was a solid wrist shot that would end Houser’s night in net and force Rob Madore into the game for the Rampage.
“It felt pretty good actually,” said Filip Forsberg on playing his first game since mid-November. “The first period was pretty tired. I was feeling like legs were pretty tired, but during the game I felt better and better. So it was a pretty good game.”
The Ads smacked in their third power-play goal of the night in the third period in similar fashion. Forsberg was laying in wait on the left wall. Austin Watson teed him up perfectly with a crafty toe-drag pass. BOOM, with a one-timer for Forsberg on a slap shot. It was 4-0 Admirals – and would stay 4-0 Admirals.
“Last time I was here we had a power-play goal and we just picked up where we ended,” said Forsberg. “First, [Salomaki] had a good feed and I put it in. Then a nice empty net pass by [Watson] – so that was pretty easy. Two pretty easy goals and nice play by the boys.”
How about a hand for Scott Darling in this game? As much as the spotlight can be shined on Forsberg, for good reason, Darling delivered yet another composed and no nonsense game in net. It seems, the more I watch Darling, his method is the “Keep It Simple, Stupid” approach. Either that or he makes plays in net just seem that calm. He doesn’t let the puck spill out very often. He’s great at stopping the run of play when it really needs to. And –when he does allow goals– he isn’t allowing bad ones. It takes a lot to fool him in net. Can’t say it enough: strength in depth. This organization has lots of big sized goalies that can play very good hockey. Darling is just becoming another example of that the more he gets the call to play.
“I have to credit the team,” said Scott Darling on his second shutout of the season. “It’s just nice. Any win is a good win. Guys blocked shots. Kept most of the shots to the outside. Didn’t really have too many scoring chances. It was a team effort.”
Thoughts on tonight’s game? What did you make of Filip Forsberg’s game tonight? What are your impressions of Scott Darling through eight starts in net? Should Darling get more games or are the Ads sharing the net well?