The Milwaukee Admirals lost 5-3 on the road against the Cleveland Monsters at the Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday night.
This was an incredibly sloppy game on the part of the Admirals. The Monsters entered this game as the second lowest scoring team in the AHL and they skated circles around the Admirals in the second period to mark a rude “Welcome Back” to Juuse Saros. Since the start of November, a seven game stretch, the Admirals have been on a run of loss-win-loss. Consistency in execution is lacking right now.
A heads up play from Emil Pettersson helped get the Admirals on the board first tonight. Andrew O’Brien had shot a puck deep but, before the Monsters could cycle out of their own half, Pettersson swooped in and jarred a puck free. He would then pass off to Bobby Butler who would take a quick wrister that beat Matiss Kivlenieks high stick-side for his fifth goal of the season.
The Admirals finish to the first period would be poor with mistakes leading directly to goals against.
A neutral zone turnover triggered a two-on-one which was finished when Miles Koules pass from the right wing hit Calvin Thürkauf on the back post to score his fifth goal of the season. The Admirals would then be up against the sword with a five-on-three penalty kill lasting 1:15. That allowed for a tic-tac-toe series from Dean Kukan, Carter Camper, and finished with Paul Bittner scoring low right wing on an exposed Juuse Saros for his second goal of the season to make it a 2-1 Monsters lead.
Following a hooking call against Sam Vigneault the Admirals were able to level things up on the power-play midway through the second period. A face-off win swiftly moved back to the left point where Pontus Åberg hammered a slap shot top shelf for his fourth goal in three-games with the Admirals and third scored on the power-play.
What would follow for Åberg in the second period was nothing quite as sweet as that slap shot. He would take a seat for slashing and see the Monsters score a power-play goal just 1:04 after his power-play goal. Carter Camper’s fourth goal of the season quickly restored a Monsters lead at 3-2. And, later in the second period, Åberg would get called for a ten minute misconduct.
The Admirals finish to the second period might have been their poorest hockey played this season. They couldn’t control the puck, clear their zone, or defend properly. And the Monsters punished them mightily for it by scoring twice in the space of twenty-nine seconds to claim a 5-2 lead by the end of the period.
Things calmed down for the third period ever so slightly. The Admirals would manage to tack on a power-play goal with 4:08 remaining in regulation, as well. Tyler Moy battled to the front of the net to score his third goal of the season and earn his first power-play goal of his pro career to make it a 5-3 deficit.
The Admirals did get Saros to the bench to bring out the extra attacker and make a late push. The attacking frenzy for them was simply too late to rally past the Monsters on the night and they would go on to lose by the final score of 5-3.
Saros allowed five goals for only the seventh time in his AHL career that spans fifty-four starts. It is difficult to pin much blame on him for a great number of the goals he allowed in this contest. The Admirals were outshot 30-24 on the night. Saros battled through twenty-five shots on goal through the opening two periods where the Monsters really had the Admirals in a tailspin.
These two meet once again at the Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night. That game starts at 6:00 PM CST and will conclude the Admirals three-game road trip. The Admirals will then return to the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Wednesday where they will see these Monsters once more.
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played there were a few roster moves made in the organization. The first came by way of the Norfolk Admirals in the ECHL who traded Angelo Miceli to the Atlanta Gladiators. Miceli remains contracted to the Admirals (AHL) but is now considered on loan to the Gladiators (ECHL). In addition, Joonas Lyytinen was reassigned to Norfolk (ECHL) and is expected to stay for the duration of the current road trip. Lyytinen should be participating in a three-in-three beginning tonight. But wait – that wasn’t all. Prior to tonight’s game the Nashville Predators recalled Anders Lindbäck and reassigned Juuse Saros to Milwaukee. Tonight marked Saros’ first game with the Admirals since 2/15/17. The line combinations and defensive pairings for the Admirals tonight were: Zolnierczyk-Pettersson-Åberg, Richard-Gaudreau-Butler, Kirkland-Zengerle-Moy, Perfetto-Trenin-Bass, Murphy-Granberg, O’Brien-Dougherty, Oligny-Carrier. Tonight’s scratches were: Fred Allard (healthy), Tyler Kelleher (healthy), Pierre-Cédric Labrie (undisclosed), Matt O’Connor (lower-body) and Trevor Smith (undisclosed). While making his debut tonight with the Colorado Avalanche former Admiral Vladislav Kamenev broke his left arm.
What is your reaction to tonight’s game? What happened to the Milwaukee Admirals? Is this a case similar to when Pontus Åberg and Frédérick Gaudreau arrived where the Admirals mentally checked out with the arrival of Juuse Saros? What do the Admirals need to do in order to correct this recent issue of allowing teams to pelt them with repeated shots on goal?
Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along on Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.