Bah Humbug; Admirals Lose 8-4 in Chicago

(Photo Credit: Shane Abbitt // Iowa Wild)
(Photo Credit: Shane Abbitt)

The Milwaukee Admirals lost 8-4 on the road against the Chicago Wolves Thursday night at the Allstate Arena.

These lengthy road trips for the Admirals sure do end with a nasty sour taste, don’t they? After such a strong showing in Texas the Admirals have dropped two games in two days with both having their unique flavor of disgust to them.

This wasn’t a shutout loss like last night but a defensively depleted and dysfunctional effort by the Admirals meant conceding a season high eight goals against tonight. This certainly isn’t the merriest of ways to head into the Christmas break.

This looked like the Admirals were getting a quick start tonight as they accomplished something they didn’t do last night, score a goal, in just 1:20 of the game. After the Wolves won a defensive face-off Petteri Lindbohm instantly turned the puck over on an outlet pass that went direct to Reid Boucher in the slot. Boucher delivered a quick release to get his fourth goal of the season before Pheonix Copley probably knew what happened.

The Wolves responded right back 1:26 after the Boucher tally. A good piece of forechecking allowed for Kenny Agostino to snap a pass from the left wing wall out towards Scooter Vaughan as he edged down the right wing for a snap shot past Marek Mazanec to quickly level the game on Vaughan’s third goal of the season.

Agostino nearly had a goal of his own after getting a home run feed out of the penalty box but Alex Carrier held him up to put the Wolves to the power-play. Vince Dunn sent a low wrister from the right point that Jordan Caron deflected underneath Mazanec and the puck sat loose behind the Czech netminder until Caron pushed it across the line for his third goal of the season.

Another net front scramble went the way of the Wolves to end the scoring for the first period. Mazanec had completely laid out to make a few good saves, some from his belly, but the whistle never came and the Wolves kept attacking until the puck trickled towards the left wing side of the net where Ivan Barbashyov smacked it home for his ninth goal of the season to give the Wolves a 3-1 lead.

The first period drama wouldn’t be without some post-whistle pushing and shoving. This went a bit over the top near the end of the period when Lindbohm started to get too stiff with a jab and Jonathan Diaby paired up with him for a proper scrap. Diaby dropped the Finnish defenseman with a solid right hand. You can score that a win in the fight department for Diaby.

For all the penalties that swamped the second period the Admirals were able to rally back and level things at 3-3 in the sandwich stanza. Alex Carrier smacked a low slap shot past a Harry Zolnierczyk screen and Copley to record his fourth goal of the season. Then, during four-on-four hockey, a pass from Agostino to Dunn skipped up off the Wolves defenseman’s stick and sent Frédérick Gaudreau off to the races where he’d finish with a backhander to earn his fourth goal of the season.

Once the third period came it appeared the Admirals defense started to fall apart. Barbashyov was able to whip a backhander wide and stick around the slot long enough for Andrew Agozzino to feed the puck right back to him for a second chance that he’d score on a wrister from the high slot for his second tally of the game and tenth of the season.

Following a disputed icing call that saw the officials take back an icing against the Wolves in favor of a neutral zone face-off the Admirals quickly turned the puck over and allowed Brett Sterling to break down the left wing and pass across to the slot for MacKenzie MacEachern to score on the counter attack for his second goal of the season and see the Wolves restore their two-goal lead just 6:44 into the third period.

There was a glimmer of hope that the Admirals could rally back and deliver their resilient comeback magic as Matt White tagged Trevor Smith for a picture perfect setup. Smith was cruising behind the defense off the back post and White’s pass from the right wing wall hit the Admirals captain right on the tape for a redirect past Copley and Smith’s ninth goal of the season.

As great as that play was. As much momentum as it should have created. The Admirals fell flat on their face defensively just fifty-four seconds later when a bad turnover allowed for the easiest of two-on-zero plays in front of Mazanec. Sterling passed off to the right wing and Bryce Gervais had a tap in to get the Wolves back ahead by two-goals.

Going for broke, the Admirals went with the empty net and extra attacker with 2:24 remaining in regulation only to see the Wolves score twice more to make the game reach a season low for the Admirals. The Wolves scoring eight goals tonight was the most allowed by the Admirals all season. Chris Butler scored from distance for his third goal of the season. That was followed by Gervais netting the second empty netter and his second tally of the night to extend his season total to eight goals.

The Admirals record falls to 17-7-2-1 (37 points, 0.685 points percentage). This means seeing them slip behind the Grand Rapids Griffins in the Central Division and Western Conference standings. The Admirals will look to avenge tonight’s rough outing against the Wolves next time out as they will be back on home ice at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Boxing Day against the Amtrak Rivals for a 7:00 PM CST face-off.

Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals played last night there were no roster moves made in the organization. Tonight’s line combinations were the same as last night: Florek-Smith-Åberg, Boucher-Gaudreau-White, Zolnierczyk-Kamenev-Bass, Liambas-Girard-Payerl, Oligny-Carrier, Murphy-Dougherty, Diaby-Kessel. Tonight’s lone scratch was Max Görtz who was a healthy scratch. This was the final game of Reid Boucher’s two week (fourteen consecutive days) conditioning assignment: 5 points (4 goals, 1 assist) in 5 games with a plus/minus rating of -4, 0 penalty minutes, and 13 shots on goal.

What happened to the Milwaukee Admirals these last two nights? Are the losses on defense of Petter Granberg and Adam Pardy starting to hurt the group? When will the penalty troubles end?

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