The Admirals lost 4-3 on the road against the Texas Stars Saturday night. A rough first period for the Admirals put them on the back-foot early. The costly amount of early mistakes put the Admirals winless streak up to four games.
Despite a strong opening minute of play for the Admirals they were immediately turned inside out by their own mistakes. After Kevin Henderson drew a holding penalty on Anthony Bitetto the Stars were able to score off their first power-play chance. Joe Piskula was unable to get a backhanded clearance out of the zone and it put the Admirals penalty kill into a scramble mode which allowed Scott Glennie to score as he sat in front of Marek Mazanec all alone. The puck snuck through Mazanec for Glennie’s tenth goal of the season.
Another failed clearance led directly to the Stars second goal. The puck was rimmed around but kept in at the left point by Scott Valentine and he passed off to Greg Rallo as he broke in towards the faceoff circles. As Rallo rolled in on goal no one, other than Rallo himself, picked up the deadly Travis Morin as he skated in from the left wing. Rallo passed off and it was a tap in job for Morin’s eighteenth goal of the season.
When Austin Watson was called for boarding it took the Stars only eleven seconds on the power-play. Rallo passed off to the left wing for Derek Meech whose quick wrist shot was stopped by Mazanec but fell back in-line with Rallo as he followed through on goal to pick up his twentieth goal of the season.
Immediately after the Admirals went down 3-0 in the first period Dean Evason called for a timeout. The coaches didn’t say much, if anything, and left it up to the players to figure the poor start out.
Not too far after that was a dust up between the former-Admiral Valentine and Felix Girard. This bout started in the Admirals attacking end along the left wing end boards. Not many blows were landed cleanly, though a few wild punches were thrown, and it ended with both tumbling to the ice with Valentine coming up on top of Girard.
Before the end of the first period Kevin Fiala’s seventh goal of the season gave the Admirals some relief to their opening frame frustrations. Triston Grant hit Colton Sissons on an outlet pass through neutral zone and he worked through two defenseman after dropped back for Fiala. Sissons helped clear some space out in front of the net and Fiala beat Jussi Rynnas to the blocker side on a wrist shot to make it a 3-1 game.
In the second period the Stars made it 3/3 on the power-play with Derek Hulak scoring his fifteenth goal of the season. Bitetto was called for a crosscheck and, for the second time on the night, was in the box as the Stars cashed in off a power-play. A point shot by Maxime Fortunus buzzed through traffic and right in front of goal for Hulak to secure the rebound off Mazanec and make it a three-goal lead.
With eleven seconds remaining in the second period Bitetto was able to get one back for the Admirals by scoring his third goal of the season and first since January 10th. Joe Pendenza carried the puck, and Matej Stransky, into the left wing boards and Bitetto stepped up from the blueline and raced in, secured the puck, and floated in a backhander past Ryannas. Small credit must be given to Grant who cleaned out two Stars defenders on the play as Bitetto skated in-behind him to deliver the backhanded shot.
With 3:01 remaining in regulation, the Admirals not only had a power-play but Mazanec pulled in the hopes of a miracle comeback down two goals. The power-play came to an end but it didn’t stop the onslaught of attack which ended with Sissons powering in his team leading twenty-first goal of the season.
Unfortunately, the last gasp of attack with the extra attacker was too little and too late. The Stars won this game 4-3 and really achieved much of that scoreline through a first period where mistakes were early and often. That first period the Stars only had five shots of which three were put past Mazanec. The Admirals offense ended the night outshooting the Stars 32-21. They’re just not getting the finishing touch for all their work putting pucks to the net.
Ramblings: Tonight’s scratches for the Admirals included Frederick Gaudreau (healthy) and Ian White (late scratch, replaced by Jonathan Diaby). Miikka Salomaki will miss the rest of the season due to shoulder surgery. Mike Liambas made his return to game action after missing four games due to a laceration he suffered to his lower-right leg on 3/1/15 playing against the Chicago Wolves.
Thoughts on tonight’s game? What is the possible explanation for the Admirals awful first period? What were the positives you would be able to take out of this game into tomorrow night’s game against these same Stars? What must be done differently?