The Wild Comeback; Ads Win 3-2 in OT

(Photo Credit: Reese Strickland // USA TODAY Sports)
(Photo Credit: Reese Strickland // USA TODAY Sports)

The Admirals won 3-2 in overtime on the road against the Iowa Wild Tuesday night. The Admirals trailed 2-0 all the way until the third period and scored with the extra attacker to force overtime. Adam Payerl had the puck on his stick on an odd-man rush in three-on-three overtime and buried his own rebound to provide the Admirals their first win of the 2015-16 season.

“We thought we deserved to win,” said assistant coach Stan Drulia after the game on 105.7 FM The Fan. “I thought the way we came out today was what we expected out of our group. We spent a lot of time in the offensive zone. Juuse [Saros] was really good in net. Excited for him we were able to battle back. He made a big save close to the buzzer to keep it 2-2 to allow us to go into overtime. But, we had a lot of contributions from the entire group today.”

The scoring in this game didn’t take place until the midway point in the second period. After a puck eluded Stevie Moses on the blueline during an Admirals power-play – Zack Mitchell was able to skate up ice past him for a shorthanded breakaway. Moses tried his best to defend on the backcheck but was called for a penalty when his stick got into the ribs of Mitchell. The shorthanded penalty shot was a clean shot that beat Juuse Saros straight through the five hole for Mitchell’s first goal of the season.

Then there was a disastrous moment in net for Admirals rookie goaltender Saros which made it a 2-0 Wild lead less than five-minutes after the game’s opening goal. A shot by Brett Bulmer banked violently off the end-boards and right back into the goal mouth area. Saros appeared to be avoiding the puck clipping off his left skate as he held the post but was out of position when the puck continued to roll and fall in-line with Matt Carey for an easy goal and his first as a member of the Wild.

In the opening minutes of the third period the Admirals finally had their breakthrough on offense. After Brett Bulmer roughed up Joe Pendenza along the benches the Admirals were given their fifth power-play opportunity of the game. Directly off of a faceoff win Frédérick Gaudreau hammered a slap shot above the right wing faceoff circle for his first goal of the season and the Admirals first power-play goal from twelve chances.

The pressure was getting poured on at both ends of the rink in the closing stages of the third period. Saros was coming up very big in net while the Admirals continued to create chances and earn faceoffs in the attacking zone. With 1:53 remaining in regulation, and an in-zone faceoff, Admirals head coach Dean Evason used the team’s timeout and opted to pull Saros in favor of bringing the extra attacker on. The Wild had never defeated the Admirals in Iowa in regulation in the team’s three-year history. That’s going to prove to up hold up for at least one more game. The Ads won the initial faceoff draw, held the zone, and when Trevor Murphy’s shot from the point stopped in front of the net it allowed for Vladislav Kamenev to score his second goal of the season and force overtime.

In the Admirals first taste of the new AHL overtime format for this season, full five-minute three-on-three hockey, they were able to complete their comeback. Adam Payerl controlled the puck on a two-on-one rush breaking into the offensive zone. Payerl glided in from the left wing, pump faked a shot, whipped a shot on Leland Irving who made the initial save, but Payerl snapped up the rebound and forced it across for the overtime-winner. The Admirals came from 2-0 down in the third period to win their first game of the season. How about that?

“He loved [Adam Payerl] in the exhibition season,” said Drulia. “He practiced like that and he played like that.”

Ramblings: Since last game, the Milwaukee Admirals recalled defenseman Jimmy Oligny from his loan assignment with the Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL). Tonight’s line combinations were: Pendenza-Sissons-Moses, Salomäki-Reinhart-Bass, Fiala-Kamenev-Payerl, Devane-Girard-Gaudreau, Oligny-Allen, Murphy-Aronson, Alm-Näkyvä. That meant tonight’s scratches were: Max Görtz (team violation), Pontus Åberg (team violation), Jonathan Diaby (healthy). Per Aaron Sims, both Görtz and Åberg were out of tonight’s game due to a team violation and didn’t even travel with the team to Iowa. The win for Juuse Saros was his first career pro win in North America and he took home first star honors tonight by stopping 23/25 shots on goal.

How do we all feel after this game? What is more important: the result itself or the way the Admirals achieved the result?

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