Because Why Not; Admirals Win 3-2 in Shootout

(Photo Credit: Asvitt Photography // Stockton Heat // flickr)

The Milwaukee Admirals won 3-2 in a shootout on the road against the Stockton Heat at the Stockton Arena on Wednesday night.

Of the Admirals now 32 wins this season they have earned 10 wins exclusively by way of the shootout. They are now 10-1 in shootout contests with the likes of Justin Kirkland, Frédérick Gaudreau, and Anders Lindbäck shining again and again and again.

The Admirals never held a lead in this game until taking the victory in the shootout. Kirkland is now 9/10 in shootout attempts while Gaudreau is 5/9.

It was a good start for the Admirals in the opening period. They had outshot the Heat 9-3 early in the first period but would get into penalty trouble which cost them momentum and the lead.

Following a tripping call against Trevor Smith the Heat would grab a power-play goal. Hunter Shinkaruk was able to move into a soft spot on the ice in the low right wing circle and then smack a one-timer past the glove of Anders Lindbäck for his sixteenth goal of the season.

It was later in the second period when memory started to sink in that the Admirals were shutout in their first trip to Stockton last season. David Rittich stopped all thirty-five shots he faced that night. Thankfully, before the end of the second period, Jon Gillies wouldn’t be allowed to say the same.

Darren Nowick would get called for a hook and it gave the Admirals a power-play chance late in the second period. Mark Zengerle offered up a pass from the right wing wall into the near circle for Mark McNeill who swiftly turned and hammered a show low along the ice that flew straight in for his eighth goal of the season to make it a 1-1 game. That ended a shutout streak for the Admirals in Stockton of 98:32.

That positive break for the Admirals didn’t last very long. Harry Zolnierczyk was called for interference off of an attacking zone face-off less than two minutes into the third period. The Heat would again pounce for a power-play goal from the right wing. This time Oliver Kylington belted a shot stick-side on Lindbäck to record his fourth goal of the season and give the Heat a 2-1 lead.

Tonight, Frédérick Gaudreau was playing his forty-second game in the AHL this season. In the third period he would find himself in an AHL penalty box for the first time since 3/29/17 on the road against the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Yet, it would be a mistake by Cody Goloubef on the Heat power-play that followed that was the real thing of note. The defenseman turned a puck over in front of his own goaltender right to Zolnierczyk. He was quickly able to tee up McNeill on the low left wing circle for a one-timer to score the Admirals thirteenth shorthanded goal of the season and his second goal of the night to equalize at 2-2.

It just wouldn’t be an Admirals game without a shootout these days. So, for the fourth time in their past five games, the Heat obliged.

The Heat would actually step up first and send out Rasmus Andersson. He stickhandled himself into problems and never managed to get a shot. In a surprising move the Admirals changed up their shootout rotation and rolled out Gaudreau first. It worked a treat as Gaudreau dangled in on Gillies and roofed a backhander to the stick side. Colin Smith would follow up for the Heat and Lindbäck got the stop. This gave way for the Admirals shootout wizard Justin Kirkland who pulled his move once again to deliver a win for the Admirals in the shootout.

This shootout marathon and skill show from the Admirals is almost beyond belief at this point. The Admirals are now 10-1 in the shootout this season while Kirkland is 9/10 in shootout attempts while Gaudreau is up to 5/9 in shootout attempts. Kirkland leads the league now in all shootout categories. Lindbäck has only allowed five shootout goals from twenty-four total chances.

To continue with The Big Swede. He has been the Admirals MVP for the entirety of this 2017-18 season. This current run that he has been on has been up there with his best play all season. Lindbäck has now won five straight games including four straight wins in a shootout. He has a 1.49 goals against average, 0.944 save percentage, and has stopped 10/11 in the shootout during this individual five-game win streak.

What comes next for the Admirals is a continuation of this West Coast swing. They will play against the San Diego Gulls on Friday night at 9:00 PM CST and then the Ontario Reign on Saturday night at 8:00 PM CST. That will conclude the three-game road trip in California. The Admirals return home to the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Tuesday when they face the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals played on Saturday there have been no roster moves made around the organization. Tonight’s line combinations and defensive pairings were: Zolnierczyk-Smith-Butler, Richard-Gaudet-Gaudreau, Bollig-Pettersson-Zengerle, Trenin-McNeill-Kirkland, Oligny-Dougherty, Carrier-Ramage, Lyytinen-Granberg. Tonight’s scratches were: Fred Allard (undisclosed), Cody Bass (upper-body), Trevor Mingoia (healthy), and Tyler Moy (healthy).

What is your reaction to tonight’s game? What is it about the Milwaukee Admirals and the shootout lately? Considering the lack of any lead in this game are you A-OK claiming two points or will the lack of regulation wins become a potential factor for the Admirals playoff chances? Why didn’t the Stockton Heat read our feature today on Justin Kirkland explaining he never changes his shootout move?

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