The Milwaukee Admirals won 2-1 in overtime on the road against the Grand Rapids Griffins at the Van Andel Arena on Saturday night.
This may not exactly have been the most electric or offensive of games to sit back and watch but this may have been the performance the Admirals have needed. They stayed composed defensively and managed to get the overtime win in a building that has so often caused them troubles.
It would be the Admirals pouncing off a mistake by the Griffins to get on the board early in the first period. A stretch pass for the Griffins was broken up in neutral ice and Bobby Butler picked out Harry Zolnierczyk down the left wing wall to send him loose into attack. Zolnierczyk was able to race up to the left wing face-off dot before wiring a wrister over the glove of Tom McCollum to become the first Admiral to reach ten goals scored on the season.
Zolnierczyk would unfortunately factor into the Griffins response later in the first period. After Zolnierczyk picked up a slashing minor the Griffins were able to get a power-play goal when Tyler Bertuzzi’s toe-drag shot bashed hard off of the end-boards and back towards the net-front presence of Matthew Ford. The Griffins captain would quickly put in the rebound past Anders Lindbäck for his tenth goal of the season to make it a 1-1 game.
To think all of that in the first period was about as good as it was going to be in regulation. Perhaps the best opportunity for either side came in the final seconds of regulation for the Griffins when they worked a shorthanded attack. Colin Campbell found Corey Elkins all alone atop the zone and he skated in only to see his shot get stopped by the blocker of Lindbäck. The game would need overtime.
That shorthanded run for the Griffins would get stopped in overtime and they would work to a whistle to finally get overtime to three-on-three. It was there when Alex Carrier worked hard to push a pass up ice for Butler on the right wing side of the ice. Butler had Trevor Smith with him for a two-on-one but he took the shot on McCollum and beat him glove-side for the game-winning goal in overtime. Butler’s tenth goal of the season gave the Admirals the 2-1 win tonight.
This really was one of the better defensive efforts of the Admirals recent run. They did get outshot by the Griffins 31-26 but they made Lindbäck’s night in net a lot more easier with limited turnovers, odd-man rushes, and far better structure in their own zone. Lindbäck made thirty saves on the night to claim his twelfth win of the season.
The Admirals now turn their attention to finishing off this three-in-three weekend tomorrow afternoon at the Allstate Arena against the Chicago Wolves. Following that they do not play again until Friday and Saturday when they battle the Cleveland Monsters at the Quicken Loans Arena.
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals played last night there were no roster moves made within the organization. Tonight’s line combinations and defensive pairings were: Zolnierczyk-Smith-Butler, Richard-Pettersson-Gaudreau, Moy-Zengerle-Kelleher, Labrie-Kirkland-Bass, Murphy-Granberg, O’Brien-Dougherty, Allard-Carrier. Tonight’s scratches were: Derek Army (healthy), Trevor Mingoia (healthy), Joonas Lyytinen (healthy), Jimmy Oligny (upper-body), and Yakov Trenin (surgery).
What were your thoughts on tonight’s game? Were you impressive by the Milwaukee Admirals defense in this game? How impressive has that veteran leadership group top forward line been?
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