The Milwaukee Admirals lost 5-2 against the Chicago Wolves Saturday night at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
It seemed as though the first period was signaling in a track meet tonight. After the first twenty minutes came and went this game devolved into a slop fest for the Admirals and Wolves. The Amtrak Rivals made the better of their chances and blitzed through the Admirals in the third period. This was the first time since the opening month of the season that the Admirals have lost consecutive regulation games.
After a sluggish and sloppy performance last night in Grand Rapids the Admirals wanted to have a fast start tonight. It is exactly what they received. Inside of five minutes the Admirals were up 1-0 thanks to the third goal of the season from Justin Florek. Justin Kirkland passed off from the left wing circle to Jimmy Oligny on the blueline for a low shot that Florek deflected up and over the shoulder of Pheonix Copley. That assist for Kirkland was the first of his pro career.
Midway through the first period the Wolves would tie things back up with Chris Butler’s second goal of the season. The veteran defenseman snuck up from his typical blueline spot on the left point to nestle into a gap in space where the white hot Kenny Agostino managed to get a pass to him from behind the net. Butler smoked a one-timer into the top shelf before Jonas Gunnarsson really knew what had just happened.
Speaking of which, the Admirals regained their lead before the Wolves really knew what had just happened. Just 1:27 of ice-time after Butler had scored and a d-to-d pass in the Admirals defensive zone between Trevor Murphy and Blake Kessel saw the Wisconsin native Kessel deliver a dart of a pass through neutral ice to the tape of Trevor Smith for a breakaway. The Admirals captain was able to lock in on Copley and narrowly work a backhander over Copley’s left pad for his sixth goal of the season.
With under two minutes remaining in the opening period the Wolves drew back with a power-play goal from Ivan Barbashev. The Wolves won a face-off and were able to get a puck to their young Russian forward who worked a wicked backhander that snapped past Gunnarsson to his glove-side for his seventh goal of the season.
That first period saw the Admirals get a season high twenty shots on goal against the Wolves. They followed that up in the second period by matching a season low with only three shots on goal. That came courtesy of numerous penalty killing situations for the Admirals in the second period. Gunnarsson and the PK unit did hold the fort, though, as the Admirals stopped all five penalty kills they endured in that frame.
The Wolves would claim their first lead of the game five minutes into the third period. A rush down the left wing by defenseman Vince Dunn ended with a booming slap shot that went against the grain of Gunnarsson and snuck past him high glove-side to give the Wolves a 3-2 edge.
He wasn’t Dunn there, either. On the power-play midway through the third period Dunn smacked a low slap shot that buzzed through lots of net-front traffic to beat Gunnarsson low off the post to the glove-side for his second goal of the night and third of the season and extend the Wolves lead to 4-2.
Agostino already extended his hot streak of late with an assist earlier in the game. He added a breakaway goal in the third period that saw him out-race Smith when entering the offensive zone and then beat Gunnarsson with a backhander through the legs to notch his ninth goal of the season and make it a 5-2 Wolves lead.
The game would end there. The Admirals went flat after a second period of penalty calls and kills. The offense never seemed to pick back up and Gunnarsson, despite a good effort in net, was left to deal with the pressure. It’s yet another hard luck loss for the Swede who now has a 1-2-1-0 record this season.
The Admirals return to game-action on Monday night at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. It will be the first trip into Milwaukee this season for the San Antonio Rampage who the Admirals started the season off with by defeating them twice by 2-1 scorelines on the road.
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals played last night there were no roster moves made. Tonight’s line combinations for the Admirals were: White- Smith-Åberg, Zolnierczyk-Kamenev-Payerl, Liambas-Girard-Bass, Florek-Kirkland-Görtz, Oligny-Dougherty, Murphy-Kessel, Diaby-Carrier. Tonight’s lone scratch was Anthony Richard who was healthy.
Thoughts on tonight’s game? What happened to the Milwaukee Admirals after the first period? Are these last few games starting to point to a weakness in the Admirals defense with it stretched as far as it is right now? Can Jonas Gunnarsson ever catch a break?
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