Flat Out Flat; Admirals Fall 5-2 to Gulls

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Milwaukee Admirals lost 5-2 against the San Diego Gulls at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Tuesday night.

As far as rough outings go this game ranks pretty high on the 2017-18 season. The Admirals were outworked for the better majority of this contest and a late push from the leadership combo of Trevor Smith, Bobby Butler, and Harry Zolnierczyk is what prevented this from becoming the first time since 2005 where the Admirals were shutout in consecutive games.

“It’s a struggle for us right now to find offense,” Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason stated after the game. “We’re not generating a whole lot of five-on-five. We have to find a way to get more pucks to the net.”

The Gulls would get out in front first in the opening period moments after they saw their first power-play come and go. Kalle Kossila whipped a shot from the low right wing wall at Anders Lindbäck. It appeared that Lindbäck absorbed the shot but lost it just as Eric Fehr and Julius Nättinen crashed for a rebound. The goal would be credited to Nättinen for his fifth goal of the season to make it a 1-0 Gulls lead.

Prior to the end of the first period an interference call against Andrew O’Brien would get the Gulls on a late power-play. Sam Carrick would secure a rebound in front of Lindbäck and take the puck off his skate and to the backhand where he’d get the finish for his fourth goal of the season with 1:17 remaining in the period.

The Gulls would extend their lead to 3-0 in the third period. Scott Sabourin would sauce a pass from the right wing and Kossila would reach far enough to get his stick blade to the feed. The redirect snuck past Lindbäck for his third goal of the season.

It seemed the Admirals were destined to be shutout for back-to-back games for the first time since 2005. Thankfully, on a four-on-three power-play, the Admirals captain would take the shutout away from Reto Berra. Harry Zolnierczyk put a wing-to-wing pass to the backdoor and Trevor Smith lightly glanced the shot on target. Berra was out of position just enough to allow for Smith’s third goal of the season and end the Admirals shutout streak at 120:28 of ice time.

The game wouldn’t stay at 3-1 for all that long. The Gulls would work a passing play of right, right, and right to the net between Alex Dostie, Ryan White, and Eric Fehr. The 32-year old Fehr would make cash in with his third goal of the season to make it a 4-1 Gulls lead.

The Admirals would empty the net and bring the extra attacker on with 1:45 remaining in regulation. During a brief four-on-three power-play chance the Admirals would see a hammer shot by Bobby Butler fly past Berra for his ninth goal of the season and make it a two-goal game once again.

Directly following the Butler power-play goal the Admirals would burn their timeout with 1:03 remaining in regulation and keep Lindbäck on the bench. Keaton Thompson and the Gulls would score into that empty net three-seconds later off the face-off to get the game at its 5-2 final tonight.

“Our goaltender has to be the best player in the game every night to give us a chance,” said Evason. “That can’t continue to happen. We’re getting out power-played. Teams are drawing penalties. There’s a lot of funky things going on with our group right now. But I think our will and our want is there. It’s just a matter of finding a way to stay positive and find our way out of it.”

After tonight’s home game the Admirals return to the road. This weekend, Saturday and Sunday, the Admirals will be facing the Central Division leading Manitoba Moose at the Bell MTS Iceplex. Their next home game comes the following week on Friday when they host the Iowa Wild before starting a four-game road trip.

Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals concluded their three-game road trip this past weekend the organization has made a good amount of roster moves. The Nashville Predators recalled Juuse Saros and reassigned Anders Lindbäck. Yesterday the Admirals recalled Derek Army from his loan with the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL). And today the Admirals signed forward Phil Lane to a professional try-out (PTO) contract from the Atlanta Gladiators (ECHL) where he was the team’s top scorer with 20 points (12 goals, 8 assists) in 21 games. Tonight’s forward combinations and defensive pairings were: Zolnierczyk-Smith-Butler, Kirkland-Army-Kelleher, Richard-Zengerle-Moy, Labrie-Bass-Lane, Oligny-Carrier, Murphy-Granberg, O’Brien-Allard. Tonight’s scratches: Jack Dougherty (healthy), Joonas Lyytinen (healthy), Trevor Mingoia (healthy), Stephen Perfetto (suspended), Emil Pettersson (upper-body), and Yakov Trenin (surgery).

What is your reaction to tonight’s game? What is wrong with the Milwaukee Admirals right now? Is it the Admirals defense that is hurting the offense or lack of attacking quality that is negating attacks from happening in the first place?

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