It’s the Admirals first win from four attempts against the scrappy Moose who once again pushed back hard while scoring three-goals with their lowest scoring offense in the league. This thrill ride finally ended in sudden death shootout fashion with Vinny Saponari getting the game-winning shootout goal and Juuse Saros denying all five attempts he faced to earn his tenth win in net for the Admirals this season.
It wouldn’t be too long into this game before a scrap broke out. Adam Payerl buddied up with Patrice Cormier and the two grappled for a brief time before the Moose’s alternate captain lost his balance and was tackled down to the ice. If you feel the need to score this one in your fight cards you can give Payerl the takedown win. I’d be willing to simply call it a no contest.
After a pair of successful penalty kills for the Admirals their special teams brought home the opening goal from a five-on-three power-play opportunity. Jay Harrison was off for crosschecking. Moments later, during the initial penalty kill, Julian Melchiori tripped up Vladislav Kamenev in neutral ice. The Admirals had 1:17 of two-man advantage and would cap it off with a one-time bomb from Pontus Åberg on the left wing circle to pick up his team-leading eighth goal of the season.
A slick piece of puck control by John Albert along the right wing wall on zone entry set up an Admirals’ defensive breakdown. Albert had Taylor Aronson between himself and defenseman Josh Morrissey who jumped up on the play past Kristian Näkyvä to allow for the two-on-one chance. Albert’s pass across to Morrissey was perfect and he would beat Juuse Saros to score his first career AHL goal.
In the second period the Moose took their first lead of the game courtesy of an outstanding piece of vision and passing by Austen Brassard. The puck battle down in the right wing pocket eventually fell to the stick blade of Brassard who was able to hit Ryan Olsen between the Admirals net-front traffic of Félix Girard and Petter Granberg in the slot for a quick shot that beat Saros. The goal for Olsen was his second of the season.
Brassard would go from brilliant to bitter within the second period. His slashing call with just over two-minutes remaining in the second period gave the Admirals momentum to score a goal with 10.5 seconds remaining in the frame to knot things up at 2-2. A firm wrist shot by Vinny Saponari knuckled off of Jay Harrison’s stick as he was defending the shot. The puck kicked up off of Eric Comrie’s pads and right in-line with Frédérick Gaudreau who put away the rebound for his seventh goal of the season.
During the Admirals sixth penalty kill of the game they managed to score a shorthanded goal to take a 3-2 third period lead. Victor Bartley made a great read and skated up ice on an odd-man rush down the left wing. He measured his pass the entire way into the attacking zone, sauced over to Payerl, and the Admirals took the lead on Payerl’s fifth goal of the season.
If the third goal scored by the Moose in last night’s game was wacky then today’s was downright ludicrous. Harrison was making a desperate attempt to keep a puck in the Manitoba attacking zone as a puck was trickling away from the left point blueline. He viciously threw a puck without much aim, skated away as if he was going to make a line change, and was dumbstruck to find he actually scored over the shoulder of Saros to tie the game with 2:26 left in regulation. The goal for Harrison was his third scored of the season and I doubt he gets a more flukey one than that.
The game would dive through three-on-three overtime and even past the standard shootout. It was sudden death shootout hockey that finally decided the game with no shooters scoring until the fifth round when the legend of Toe Drag City Vinny Saponari pulled back from the forehand and calmly deposited a backhander along the ice to give the Admirals their first win over the Moose this season.
Both goaltenders today were terrific to watch and deserve a mention. Comrie for the Moose made thirty-four saves and was the tough luck loser in the game. Saros made twenty-five saves for the Admirals, and all five shootout attempts, to earn his tenth win in the AHL this season.
Ramblings: Today’s line combinations for the Admirals were: Fiala-Gaudreau-Görtz, Åberg-Kamenev-Payerl, Pendenza-Reinhart-Saponari, Devane-Girard-Budish, Näkyvä-Granberg, Bartley-Aronson, Murphy-Oligny. Today’s scratches were: Matt White (healthy), Cody Bass (upper-body), Johan Alm (healthy) and Conor Allen (undisclosed injury). The Admirals penalty kill went a solid six-for-six this afternoon while scoring a shorthanded goal.
Reaction to today’s game? Who is impressing you the most on the Milwaukee Admirals during this spell where players are having to step up due to a stretched out roster?