The Milwaukee Admirals won 6-2 against the Charlotte Checkers Saturday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Tonight’s meeting between the Admirals and Checkers wasn’t at all like the struggle that last night. Instead, the Admirals offense unloaded thirty-nine of shots on goal and went on a string of scoring four unanswered goals to leap back into the win column tonight.
“Certainly, we’ve talked about five-on-five not having the success as of late,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason after the game. “Fortunate our [power-play] got a real big goal there as well. Penalty kill was good again. Hopefully that gives our group confidence that we can score five-on-five and, if we do the right things – which we thought we did, that we’ll get rewarded for it.”
Similar to last night’s game the opening goal wouldn’t come until the second period. Unlike last night’s game it came the way of the enemy in red. A rapid-fire start for the Checkers gave them a two-on-one rush and goal just fifty-eight seconds into the second period. Ethan Werek passed over to Checkers top scorer and team captain Derek Ryan who snapped a one-timer off from the left wing and past Juuse Saros for his nineteenth goal of the season.
In the final four-minutes of the second period the Admirals finally found rewards for all their attacking pressure. Kevin Fiala made a strong drive from the left wing wall, caught John Muse getting low with his paddle down early, and snapped a shot off his back and in for his fifteenth goal of the season.
“I mean, a goal is a goal,” smiled Kevin Fiala. “It counts but it was not beautiful. Not every goal is beautiful but it was important I think. To score 1-1 is very important to get us going.”
The Admirals needed 2:43 of ice time to tack-on to Fiala’s tally and take the lead. Kyle Hagel was called for tripping to get the Admirals on their fourth power-play of the night. This set the stage for Max Görtz to whip a wrister from the top of the left wing face-off circle and score his fourteenth goal of the season. The shot by Görtz appeared to take a glancing touch off of Keegan Lowe’s stick and sent it fluttering up and over the blocker of Muse into the roof of the net.
The Checkers scored in the opening minute of the second period. The Admirals decided to mirror that and score their third unanswered goal to start the third period. Stefan Elliott threw a puck to the net where Eric Nystrom was battling for the front of the crease with Mike Cornell. The puck deflected off the traffic in front of Muse and Nystrom was credited with the deflection for his first goal in the AHL since 2/17/08 when he scored twice as a member of the Quad City Flames.
Following the goal the Checkers decided to yank Muse from net in favor of Daniel Altshuller. It may have been a harsh move against Muse but his night ended with him stopping 23/26 shots on goal.
Altshuller was given a rather quick introduction to the game. The Admirals continued to pour pressure on offense and then came the fourth unanswered goal. Patrick Mullen blistered a head hunter of a shot from the point and Matt White caught a piece of the puck as it whistled past with his stick. The puck flew in and there were immediate calls for that deflection by White to have been played with a high stick. The referees talked it out and decided against it. The goal counted and counted as White’s eighth of the season.
The run for the Admirals finally came to a halt when Checkers captain Ryan scored his second of the night. Werek’s initial shot on Saros appeared to be saved but the puck had enough juice on it to keep motoring behind the Finnish netminder and fall into the crease. Ryan continued his drive to the net and was rewarded with his twentieth goal of the season.
The Admirals would re-establish their three-goal lead once again and do so off of an incredible piece of skill by White. The Admirals forward dangled from the right wing, across the slot, dodging stick-checks, and bending a wrist shot against the grain and through Altshuller for his second goal of the game and ninth of the season.
“I wanted to pass it to [Adam Payerl],” commented Matt White of the goal. “He made a nice play at the blueline so I kind of wanted to return the favor. But I just tried to make a move, the goalie was sliding over, just tried to hit the net, and it went in.”
For good measure the Admirals smacked in one more goal and it would be a second tally for Görtz. The Swede fought off a defender, nearly fell down while doing so, but regained his balance to unload a wrister to the near post from the left wing face-off circle that smoked past Altshuller for Görtz’s fifteenth goal of the season.
“We actually reinforced after the game that if we get pucks deep and we cycle and get that part of our game in order – we’re going to score goals,” said Evason. “Because we have enough skill level once we get the puck in their zone to the middle of the ice but, a lot of times, we take it to the middle too quickly and then look for that opportunity. That’s where the blocks come in. If we can cycle, get people out of their position defensively, and then bring it to that core area we feel we are going to have a chance to have success.”
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals played last night there were no roster moves made throughout the organization. Tonight’s line combinations were: Reinhart-Gaudreau-Åberg, Fiala-Kamenev-Payerl, Nystrom-Bass-Bourque, White-Girard-Görtz, Oligny-Potter, Elliott-Mullen, Murphy-Aronson. Tonight’s scratches tonight were: Kristian Näkyvä (healthy), Jamie Devane (healthy), Cody Hodgson (upper body), Joe Pendenza (healthy), and Johan Alm (lower body).
Thoughts on tonight’s game? Was this a return to form for the Milwaukee Admirals offense? How does a game like this bode for tomorrow’s game in Chicago?
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