McKenna Keeps Shining; Admirals Lose 3-1 in Texas

(Photo Credit: Andy Nietupski)

The Milwaukee Admirals lost 3-1 on the road against the Texas Stars at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park on Friday night.

This was close to being like the first meeting of the season against the Stars. Mike McKenna was nearly perfect in net for the Stars and he would only be beaten late by Trevor Murphy. McKenna has stopped all but one of the sixty-five shots he has faced against the Admirals in the two games played this past week. The Admirals have now lost their past two games and will need a rebound result tomorrow night.

Tonight’s opening period saw the Stars surge on the back of two quick power-play chances. Yet, Anders Lindbäck and company held strong and got the Admirals through the opening twenty-minutes with no damage taken. The Stars peppered him for fourteen shots in that first period.

In the next frame the Stars would find their breakthrough. A puck fell back along the right wing for Gavin Bayreuther who cranked a slap shot right from the wall that whistled past Lindbäck and in for his fifth goal of the season to give the Stars a 1-0 lead.

Despite phenomenal pressure out of the gate in the third period it would be the Stars adding to their lead. Lindbäck put a puck over the glass for delay of game and a breakout play burned the Admirals penalty kill on the rush. Matt Mangene flew down the right wing with pace and threaded a feed to the backpost where Denis Guryanov had a tap in for his twelfth goal of the season.

The Admirals were looking to get Lindbäck and bring out the extra attacker late in the third period. Unfortunately, a scramble in neutral ice had Lindbäck racing towards his net to attempt a save on an empty net bid all while the extra attacker was already on the ice for the Admirals. They were called for having too many men on the ice. But two goals would follow during that Admirals penalty kill.

Trevor Murphy managed to snap a wicked wrist shot from the right wing circle that finally beat Mike McKenna. The goal snapped McKenna and the Stars shutout streak against the Admirals that lasted 118:34 of ice time across two games. The goal by Murphy was his eighth of the season but also the thirty-first of his AHL career with the Admirals. That ties him with Andrew Hutchinson for the most goals scored by an Admirals defenseman in the AHL history of the team.

That tally by Murphy came when the Admirals were shorthanded and with the extra attacker on the ice. Sadly, they would see that empty net get scored on moments later as Brian Flynn shot into the vacated net for a power-play goal and his sixteenth tally of the season.

Once again, this game had a defensive feel to it but both goaltenders shined tonight. McKenna stopped 36/37 shots on goal and was moments away from shutting out the Admirals for a second consecutive time. Lindbäck also did a solid job for the Admirals and stopped 25/27 shots on the night. Possible story of the night being the Admirals power-play which is now 0/7 in two games against the Stars this season.

These two teams will meet once again tomorrow night at 7:00 PM CST. That game will complete the Admirals slate in February as well as games to be played in the state of Texas for the 2017-18 season.

Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals played on Wednesday night there have been no roster moves made in the organization. Tonight’s line combinations and defensive pairings were: Zolnierczyk-Smith-McNeill, Richard-Zengerle-Gaudreau, Trenin-Pettersson-Mingoia, Labrie-Kirkland-Moy, Murphy-Dougherty, Lyytinen-Granberg, Allard-Carrier. Tonight’s scratches were: Derek Army (healthy), Cody Bass (upper-body), Jimmy Oligny (upper-body). Shortly after pre-game skate it was determined that Mark Zengerle, who missed Wednesday’s game due to illness, was good to go despite being considered out moments prior to the game’s start. This meant that Derek Army was a late healthy scratch.

What was your reaction to tonight’s game? Where is the Milwaukee Admirals killer instinct in attack in these two games against the Texas Stars? Can credit simply be given to Mike McKenna and the defensive structure from the Stars? What changes should be made for tomorrow night that can flip this scrip against Texas?

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