The Milwaukee Admirals 3-2 in shootout against the Chicago Wolves Friday night at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
After trailing 2-0 in the second period the Admirals clawed back with a pair of goals on the power-play from the Swedes Max Gortz and Pontus Aberg. The game required a shootout and in the end Aberg had the game-winning tally with Juuse Saros getting the stop on Brett Sterling to secure the first win at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena since the 1986-87 season.
“We’re just getting our feel here,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason of playing at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. “It’s such a wonderful building. So disappointed that we couldn’t get it done on the home opener for Harris [Turer] and the city. The guys are jacked, I know, to get it done.”
After an Adam Payerl tripping minor the Wolves were able to score from their second power-play opportunity in the first period. A low shot from the right wing circle by defenseman Brad Hunt kicked off the pads of Juuse Saros and into the path of Landon Ferarro for a rebounder. The goal for Ferraro was his second of the season.
In the second period the Admirals looked to have a prime chance to equalize after Félix Girard and Mike Liambas were set with a two-on-one from close range in the low right wing. Liambas was all alone in net but Girard’s pass was prevented by a sliding Hunt. In the following rush down the ice the Wolves made it 2-0. A tic-tac play from Ivan Barbashyov teed up Justin Selman for his first goal of the season and Selman’s second career pro goal.
On their fourth power-play of the night, having gone 3/37 on the man advantage this season entering the chance, the Admirals finally notched a goal. The passing by the Ads from the low right wing set the stage as Matt White pass to Trevor Murphy gliding across the front of the net before backhanding a feed to Max Görtz in the left wing where the net was wide open for him to score his first goal of the season and make it a 2-1 game.
The Admirals power-play struggles weren’t restarting anytime soon, either. The Admirals equalized with yet another Swede smacking a puck past Pheonix Copley and this time it was Pontus Åberg with a rocket from the left point that smacked the crossbar and went straight down for his third goal of the season to make it 2-2 late in the second period.
This game would fly through the third period and require overtime. The overtime period featured incredible end-to-end action including a save of the year candidate from Copley to rob Trevor Smith as well as a great stop by Saros on Hunt. It needed a shootout.
Copley was extremely aggressive in leaving his crease to track shooters. Gaudreau used that to his advantage to dangle in a backhander past him for the first Ads tally. Saros was a perfect 13/13 in shootout attempts last season. On his first shootout of the 2016-17 season he allowed a shootout goal from the first attempt as Magnus Pääjärvi slipped a shot underneath the pads to level the shootout at 1-1. After successive misses from Justin Kirkland and Kenny Agostino the overaggressive play by Copley came back again as Åberg’s backhand to forehand move had him way out of position to glide the puck through the crease and in. Saros was set at match-point to stop Brett Sterling’s chance and the Admirals earned a 3-2 shootout win after trailing 2-0 in the second period.
“It’s kind of 50-50,” said Juuse Saros after the game. “I always want to be good at those but it was good that our guys scored a couple there so I didn’t have to make every save.”
Although it is not ideal for the Admirals to spend so much time on the penalty kill their penalty killing group was terrific in tonight’s game. The Admirals went 8/9 on the PK against the Wolves and have improved their overall penalty killing percentage to 84% (42/50).
“It was a funny game,” commented Evason. “Clearly we can’t continue to kill penalties like we are. Having said that, I love to run our guys up on being undisciplined but we’re not. We’re giving the refs opportunities to call them, so it’s on us, but there’s so many penalties in the game that the flow of the hockey game is not fun.”
Saros did allow his first shootout goal in his AHL career tonight but he is still 15/16 and is a perfect 5-0 in shootouts. His twenty-seven save night helps him improve to 5-1-0-0 in net this season with a 1.82 goals against average and 0.933 save percentage.
The Admirals return right back to the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena tomorrow night at 6pm CDT against the spoilers of last weekend’s three-in-three the Iowa Wild. It will be the second game of a five game homestand for the Admirals.
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals played on Sunday the team assigned defenseman Jonathan Diaby to the Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL). Diaby played in both of the Cyclones wins on Wednesday and Thursday while registering an assist in his Cyclones debut this season. With Diaby playing at the ECHL level the Admirals roster was trimmed such that there were no scratches for tonight’s game. In uniform number news, Admirals forward Justin Kirkland switched from #24 to #19.
What are your thoughts on tonight’s game? Was that the most entertaining/excruciating three-in-three overtime the Admirals have played yet?
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