The Admirals won 4-2 on the road against the Rochester Americans Saturday night. It wasn’t pretty. It was actually quite a hot mess. But, for how things have been going lately, who cares! The Admirals overcame a 2-0 deficit before winning this game in a period that saw them only record three shots on goal.
It was the Amerks that did the early damage. They scored two goals from their first three shots and scored them twenty-five seconds apart from one another.
Directly off of a faceoff the home-side picked up the opening goal after the faceoff was kicked behind Felix Girard. Ian White made a bad read on the faceoff and went left as the puck fell to Joel Armia to the right of him. Armia had the time and space to flip back on his backhand and beat Marek Mazanec to score his seventh goal of the season.
Only twenty-five seconds later the Admirals were tossing a puck out of their own net again. Zac Dalpe was racing along the right wing wall and drew the attention of four Admirals on the ice. Dalpe lost his balance and made an amazing pass while spinning on his back to find Tim Schaller breaking down the slot. The only man tracking Schaller was Brendan Leipsic but the damage was done before he could have any say. Schaller scored a wrister to make it 2-0 off of his eighth goal of the season.
In the second period a big check by Matt MacKenzie on Girard caught the eye of Mike Liambas. This was a quick scrap directly following the hit and Liambas got a few blows on before earning a take down. This is one of those instances where I feel like throwing a fight card out the window because, even though it wasn’t called on the ice, it was an instigator job from Liambas protecting his teammate. Like Girard on the check, I’m not sure MacKenzie knew what hit him.
The Admirals made a nice push following the bout by Liambas. Joe Pendenza, not a regular on the Admirals power-play, had a great chance to score from out in front of Andrey Makarov on an early power-play bid that was shot off the pads. He was put right back on the next power-play and scored off of a redirection with four seconds left in an Admirals power-play to score his fifth goal of the season.
With how the Admirals have been playing of late you might have thought a goal like this would have happened against them. Instead, another team in a miserable run had the bad bounce beat them. Leipsic appeared to be skating up to center ice to shoot the puck deep and finish his shift. Instead, the puck clipped the stick blade of Jake McCabe and managed to fool Makarov in net and go in. Fluke or not it goes down as Leipsic’s fourth goal of the season.
Just over a minute into the third period the Admirals took a 3-2 lead. Leipsic wired a stretch pass that sent Colton Sissons off on a breakaway. He stayed near post and beat Makarov to the glove-side to score his eighth goal of the season and give the Admirals their first lead of the night.
The Admirals managed to seal this game up with an empty net tally for Austin Watson. It’s his eleventh goal of the season, third goal in three games, and third empty netter. Another fun stat to think about. The Admirals scored twice in the third period to win tonight. They only registered three shots on goal in the frame.
A well-deserved shout out must be given to Mazanec for his efforts in net tonight. He may have allowed two goals in rapid succession in the first period but was lights out from that point forward – making twenty-eight saves when all was said and done. He’s been in net over Magnus Hellberg these last four games not necessarily as a knock on Hellberg but just because of how solid Mazanec has played recently. While plenty of poor performances have been happening on this spell for the Admirals it’s hard to point a finger at the performance in net.
If there was one moment in the game that the Amerks will be tearing their hair out over tonight it shouldn’t be the Leipsic long range howler. It should be their failed conversion of a full two-minute five-on-three power-play in the first period when they had scored two-goals so quickly. The Admirals were pressing. Mark Van Guilder even played the bulk of the penalty kill without a stick. And the Amerks couldn’t do anything. Game changer.
Ramblings: Tonight’s scratches included Miikka Salomaki (illness), Garrett Noonan (healthy), and Johan Alm (upper body). Marek Mazanec made his fourth consecutive start in net for the Admirals. The last time he did such a feat was at the start of this season when he made five straight starts in the Admirals first five games.
Thoughts on tonight’s game? Could the fluke goal for Brendan Leipsic symbolize that the bounces are going to start going the Admirals way? Where would the Admirals be right now without Marek Mazanec and Magnus Hellberg in net? Has quality goaltending bailed the Admirals out of massive struggles this season?