The Admirals lost 6-2 against the Toronto Marlies in Friday night’s playoff opener. The Marlies really dictated much of tonight’s action and had an answer for everything the Admirals threw at them in game one. The Ads will look for a quick turnaround with game two taking place in less than twenty-four hours.
“We thought we were very tentative at the start,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “We didn’t have our legs. We didn’t get into the hockey game until we scored the first goal. We thought [Toronto] took the game to us. We have to start the game better tomorrow night.”
There appeared to be a few phantom high sticking minors that occurred in the first period. Brad Ross of the Marlies wiped out on a hit attempt on Anthony Bitetto at the Admirals blueline and flopped into him. That was called for the game’s opening penalty. Then a similar scenario occurred when Jarred Smithson came for a hit on the forecheck against Mathieu Tousignant. With five seconds into the Admirals power-play – Taylor Beck was called for a high stick well away from the puck.
During the ensuing four-on-four the Marlies capitalized for the game’s opening goal. Sam Carrick picked up the puck from behind the net. He took a quick look around him, saw no one was there to defend him except for Marek Mazanec, and took his chances. He carried the puck to the front of the net on a backhander and dragged it past the outstretched leg of a Mazanec for the first goal of this playoff series.
After an interference call against Charles-Olivier Roussel – the Marlies were able to extend their lead early in the second period. Josh Leivo skated to the left wing faceoff circle and wired a wrister off the crossbar and down. The shot beat the block attempt by Joe Piskula and went against the grain of Mazanec to the blocker side to make it 2-0 Marlies.
The Admirals finally found the back of the net courtesy of the Swedes. Calle Jarnkrok entered the offensive zone from the right swing and laid a perfect saucer pass off to Patrick Cehlin who took it first time. The quick shot caught MacIntyre off his angle and made it a 2-1 hockey game.
The Marlies answered back almost instantly. With the Marlies pushing back hard it seemed as if the Admirals were in a panic mode defending. Then the AHL’s top defenseman T.J. Brennan fired a shot from the point that knuckled off in and past Mazanec to restore the Marlies two-goal advantage. The goal came only 1:08 after Cehlin’s at the other end. It simply felt like a sucker punch.
“It was kind of a Keystone Cops there,” said Evason of the quick response goal by Toronto. “Van has it on his tape and the it jumps over Wathier’s stick. You gain the momentum and all of the sudden it shifts right away back. For sure it was the turning point.”
If the end to the second period wasn’t painful enough the start to the third period wasn’t any better. The Admirals won the opening draw for the period but the puck was forced into their zone, the Marlies, buzzed around for nearly one minute, and then Jerry D’Amigo powered a shot past Mazanec to make it 4-1 Marlies.
Needing a serious lifeline – the Admirals tallied on the power-play to draw a goal back. Filip Forsberg smashed a slap shot at ice level and it was underneath the pads of MacIntyre. Not knowing where the puck went, the former-Admiral took a quick turn and actually managed to kick the puck into his own net.
With a late power-play on, the Marlies added two empty netters to finish off the Admirals in game one. Kenny Ryan scored from behind his own net just as Mazanec left to get on the Admirals bench. And, for the heck of it, the Ads went empty net again and Carrick added the Marlies second shorthanded empty netter in a matter of forty-eight seconds.
“It’s frustrating,” said Francis Wathier. “Obviously we don’t want that kind of result. 6-2 doesn’t dictate the type of game we played. We didn’t play bad. I think we have a little bit more in the tank that we can do. That’s going to be playoff hockey. It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be rough. It’s going to be intense every shift. It’s a good lesson for everyone.”
What are your reactions from game one? Was this a blip or a wake up call that this could be a short playoff series for Milwaukee?