The Admirals lost 3-1 against the Grand Rapids Griffins Sunday night. It was a strong night for the visitors as they outshot the Milwaukee 36-27 and had yet another great performance from Petr Mrazek en route to a win that ended the Ads point-streak at four games.
“[Grand Rapids] played a smart game,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “They controlled the puck. They got pucks deep on us. And they worked. We anticipated that they would be a little bit more fatigue than they looked, but that’s why they won the league last year.”
In the first period the Griffins were on the receiving end of a quick whistle that cost Miikka Salomaki an opening goal. Patrick Cehlin’s shot from the left wing trickled through Petr Mrazek’s pads, was rolling towards goal, and then Salomaki pushed it in. Unfortunately, the whistle blew just as the Finn barreled in on goal for the puck.
“[The official] apologized,” said Evason. “He just said, he thought the goaltender had it, and he just said, sorry. It happens. Obviously, big goal too. For us, momentum. Just a bad break.”
Former-Admiral Jordin Tootoo clobbered Mathieu Tousignant into the boards in the second period – and it drew the ire of Mike Liambas. Tootoo was going to receive a penalty for boarding, but Liambas instigated and landed some decent blows. Once the dust settled, Liambas also received a ten minute misconduct to go along with an instigator and his fighting major.
Liambas now has 258 penalty minutes this season and is second only to Tootoo in team history in that respect. His combatant tonight holds the record with 266 penalty minutes from the 2004-05 season.
After leading the way in shots for the majority of the contest – the Griffins finally found the back of the net. Francis Wathier was called for kneeing to give the division leaders their second power-play of the game. Ryan Sproul’s shot from the right point was saved by Marek Mazanec with the pads. Yet, he kicked the save out to the left wing for an easy rebound goal for Teemu Pulkkinen – his twenty-ninth goal of the season.
With a power-play putting life back into the Admirals game – they found a breakthrough in the third period that leveled the score at 1-1. Filip Forsberg ripped a shot from the point that eluded four bodies in front of Mrazek and into the net. It was Forsberg’s eleventh goal of the season.
“We didn’t feel we got enough chances in the first two periods,” said Filip Forsberg. “We know that they have some pretty slow d-men there – pretty good size – so we have to use our feet. I think we did that pretty good in the third and created some chances. It was unlucky we couldn’t score more than one goal.”
The Griffins struck back with 3:32 remaining in regulation in eerily similar fashion. They had just capped off a power-play, maintained pressure in attack, and then Sproul’s blast from the right point beat a net front screen and Mazanec for the eventual game-winning goal. It was Sproul’s tenth goal of the season.
The Admirals emptied their net with 1:14 remaining. Pulkkinen’s try on the empty net, post. Mitch Callahan’s chance on the empty net, up and over. Yet Callahan followed in and set up Pulkkinen for the empty netter for his second goal of the game and thirtieth of the season.
Mrazaek has had his way against the Admirals this season and he continued his dominance tonight. He stopped twenty-six of twenty-seven chances – only beaten by a puck that cruised through a wall of traffic. In six meetings against the Admirals he has now won five games in net for the Griffins.
“He had some great saves,” said Forsberg. “We had a couple of good shots and he was there. It’s hard. We have to get in front of him. That goal that we scored we had a lot of people in front so that’s what we need to do and we didn’t do that enough until the third.”
Ramblings: Prior to the game, Mark Van Guilder was officially recalled to the Nashville Predators under emergency conditions. He made his NHL debut in Nashville against the Washington Capitals wearing his #29. Patrick Cehlin played in his one-hundredth game as an Admiral today. Meanwhile, Braden Pimm was playing in his first career AHL game after joining the Admirals in recent days from Northeastern on an ATO.