The Milwaukee Admirals lost 5-2 against the Grand Rapids Griffins on the road at the Van Andel Arena on Sunday afternoon. The Admirals trail the Griffins 2-0 in the best of five opening round series of the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs and are up against the sword needing to win out from this point forward.
This game showed the good, the bad, and the ugly of this Admirals-Griffins rivalry. There were lots of chippy moments and penalties. The Griffins would overwhelm the Admirals in the first two periods. Despite a solid push in the third period for the Admirals they fell for the tenth consecutive time in the playoffs and now face elimination as they return to Milwaukee for Game 3.
It would take the Griffins just twenty-five seconds to score the game’s opening goal. Eric Tangradi let a wrister fly from the high left wing circle that floated past Marek Mazanec stick-side.
Thankfully, the Admirals wouldn’t be caught off guard with the quick strike by the Griffins. The Admirals surged towards the net and Vladislav Kamenev was able to get a second chance opportunity pushed past Jared Coreau to make it a 1-1 game just 1:42 of ice-time after the Griffins tally.
The Griffins would finish the first period up 2-1. Samuel Girard has a puck hop up on his stick as he was looking to move up the right wing out of the Admirals defensive zone. Evgeny Svechnikov was quick to pounce on the mistake and swiftly passed back into the slot where Axel Holmström opened up to one-time the feed and score his second goal since coming over from Sweden to put the Griffins back in front.
In the second period the Griffins would add to their lead. Tyler Bertuzzi exited the penalty box and was quick to start an odd-man rush after serving a goaltender interference minor. He swung out right wing, held a shooting position, and then snapped a shot to the near post that beat Mazanec high glove to make it a 3-1 Griffins lead.
It felt like the majority of the third period was spent in attack for the Admirals. They finally got a reward for all that pressure after a fantastic pass by Mike Ribeiro from the left point found Frédérick Gaudreau above the ring wing circle that would end with a wrister buried high glove on Coreau to make it a 3-2 game on Gaudreau’s third goal of the playoffs.
For all the pressure the Admirals were building they had a chance following a Griffins icing call with 1:34 remaining in regulation. The Admirals used their timeout to draw something up and bring Mazanec to the bench to work with the extra attacker. Ultimately, it would go bust as the Griffins would get a puck to neutral ice and score on the empty net with Bertuzzi to make it a two-goal game. The Admirals would again go empty net only to see Matthew Ford score an empty netter as well to see this game through to its 5-2 final.
The story of today’s game felt very much written by the opening two periods. The Griffins played aggressively and had the Admirals flustered both during the run of play and after whistles had blown. The Griffins are very much under the Admirals skin and the majority of today’s penalties were of the roughing variety. That is the Griffins style of hockey. It isn’t the Admirals style. And the Admirals falling into that trap now has them in an even bigger one with a 2-0 series hole needing to win out to survive.
This series now shifts to Milwaukee. Game 3 takes place on Wednesday night at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena with a 7:00 PM CDT face-off. The Admirals must win-out to advance to Round 2 of the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs. A win on Wednesday night would mean hosting Game 4 in Milwaukee on Friday night at 7:00 PM CDT.
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals played Game 1 there were no changes made for their roster. The Nashville Predators did find out who their opponent will be in Round 2 of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, however, and it will be an all grown-up Amtrak Rivalry series against the St. Louis Blues. Today’s line combinations for the Admirals were: Richard-Ribeiro-Gaudreau, White-Smith-Moy, Kirkland-Kamenev-Payerl, Florek-Army-Liambas, Pardy-Carrier, Murphy-Granberg, Girard-Dougherty. Today’s scratches for the were: Bass (lower-body injury), Kelleher (undisclosed injury), O’Brien (undisclosed injury), Perfetto (healthy), Pinkston (healthy), Trenin (healthy), and Visentin (healthy).
What were your thoughts about Game 2? Is the Grand Rapids Griffins ability to get under the Milwaukee Admirals skin the difference in this series? What do the Admirals need to do in order to fight off elimination Wednesday night in Milwaukee?
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