The Milwaukee Admirals 4-2 on the road against the Manitoba Moose Tuesday night at the MTS Centre.
A strong second period helped see the Admirals get over the hump tonight against a Moose team that has had their number this season. Managing a two-goal cushion was a key to tonight’s game as the Moose twice, including late with their net emptied, rallied back to make it a one-goal deficit. The Admirals would never allow the Moose to rally back and level the score and Kevin Fiala marked his return to the lineup with an empty netter to end the Moose’s late theatrics tonight. The Admirals point streak is now up to nine-games.
It wasn’t the greatest of starts for the Admirals but they did a solid job on damage control by escaping the first period at a scoreless draw. Once the second period began it looked like the Admirals were a different team. They tilted the ice and, after Kevin Fiala drew a tripping call, scored with a delayed penalty against the Moose allowing for the extra attacker situation to make a different. Fiala threw a puck towards the net and Jimmy Oligny rushed up from the blueline and nearly scored off of a backhanded shot. Connor Hellebuyck made a great save on Oligny’s shot but left the rebound right in-line with Adam Payerl who popped it home for his eleventh goal of the season to give the Admirals a 1-0 lead.
Brendan Lemieux, the son of four-time Stanley Cup champion Claude Lemieux, was making his professional playing debut tonight for the Moose. Unfortunately for him, his first penalty taken as a pro came back to cost his team. As Lemieux sat for a hooking minor Patrick Mullen put a puck into Pontus Åberg’s wheelhouse and he unleashed a howitzer of a one-timer that rifled near post and into the top shelf. Hellebuyck has zero chance of stopping the shot by Åberg and it gave the Swede his first twenty goal season of his professional playing career.
Lemieux would redeem himself early in the third period by drawing a penalty against Taylor Aronson to get the Moose to a power-play where they would cash in. Jansen Harkins delivered a low shot from the left wing that Juuse Saros stopped with the pads but kicked the rebound out to the right wing where Brandon Denham was able to smack in his first career AHL goal to make it a one-goal contest with 16:18 remaining in regulation.
After Jordan Hill was called for tripping the Admirals answered the Moose’s power-play goal with one of their own. Mullen was able to pick out Max Görtz who was all alone at the right side of Hellebuyck. It was a quick trigger shot for Görtz to capitalize on the surprise element for the Moose penalty kill and goaltender who lost sight of him and the second Swede to score for the Admirals on the power-play on the night pushed his goal total to seventeen.
With 2:01 remaining in regulation Hellebuyck made his way to the Moose bench for the extra attacker to hop on and look for a late rally. This nearly all paid off. The Moose were able to score quickly into their first bid with an extra attacker on to make it a 3-2 game. John Albert’s shot from the left point took a harsh deflection or two in front of Saros and bounced past him with 1:47 remaining in regulation. Chase De Leo was credited with the goal. It was his seventeenth scored this season and his fifth goal from seven games against the Admirals.
The next wave of attack for the Moose with their net emptied didn’t have the same story pan out. Instead the Admirals were able to get a puck out to Kevin Fiala who skated the puck into the empty net to seal the game off with his seventeenth goal of the season.
This game marked the third consecutive start in net for Saros and his hot run continued. He has won nine of his last ten games with a 1.56 goals against average and 0.941 save percentage during this recent run. Saros has played in three games against the Moose this season and won all three starts. These two sides lock up for the last time in the 2015-16 season tomorrow night, once again, in Manitoba.
A look to the AHL’s Central Division standings right now will show that all teams in the top four have now played seventy-games this season. The Admirals currently hold a five-point lead to the second placed Grand Rapids Griffins who are now tied with the Lake Erie Monsters. The Rockford IceHogs, who lost in overtime tonight to the fifth placed Charlotte Checkers, are now seven-points back of the Admirals.
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played on Saturday there were a pair of roster moves made. The Nashville Predators recalled Cody Bass from the Admirals and reassigned Stefan Elliott to the Admirals from his emergency recall assignment. Elliott was unable to arrive to Manitoba in time for the start of tonight’s game but is expected to take part tomorrow. Tonight’s line combinations were: Reinhart-Gaudreau-Åberg, Fiala-Kamenev-Payerl, White-Girard-Görtz, AJ-Pendenza-Devane, Oligny-Potter, Näkyvä-Aronson, Murphy-Mullen. Tonight’s scratches were: Cody Hodgson (upper-body), Stefan Elliott (traveling), and Johan Alm (lower-body).
Thoughts on tonight’s game? Would you chalk up the first period as a lull that was swiftly corrected in the second period? Whether it be Arvidsson, Åberg, or Görtz – how good have those Swedes been for the Admirals from the left wing circle on the power-play?
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