The Milwaukee Admirals lost 2-1 against the Grand Rapids Griffins at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Tuesday night.
The Admirals had won six of seven games following the NHL Trade Deadline. They have now lost three straight games in regulation while recording three goals and seeing their power-play go 0/12. Harry Zolnierczyk managed to score a shorthanded goal in the third period but the late push was too late to sway the result.
“We’re doing a lot of really, really good things – defensively,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason after the game. “We’re not giving anything up. The problem is we’re not getting anything. We had some real good opportunities, some real good looks, and again our power-play has to score a goal at one of those points. We have to capitalize on that and we didn’t.”
The game’s opening goal wouldn’t come until midway through the second period. Matt Lorito fired a wrist shot from the bottom of the left-wing circle that beat Anders Lindbäck low glove-side for his twenty-second goal of the season. The goal for the Griffins would be the only tally for either team in the period as the score remained 1-0 Griffins.
The Griffins added on to their lead early in the third period thanks to Corey Elkins. Dylan McIlrath found Elkins cheating behind two defenders for a breakaway. Elkins was able to work a shot past Lindbäck’s stick-side for his ninth goal of the season.
Later in the period, Jack Dougherty would be whistled for a cross-check that put the Griffins on a power-play. This is when the Admirals would get on the board and cut the deficit. Anders Lindbäck gave the puck to Tyler Gaudet, who then snapped a pass to Harry Zolnierczyk up ice. Zolnierczyk skated down the slot on a breakaway and placed a wrister past Tom McCollum stick-side for his eighteenth goal of the season.
“Just recently, over the last few games, we’ve kind of been struggling to find a little bit of offense,” said Harry Zolnierczyk. “We caught a break there on the PK but it’s just a little late to bring on that push at the end. It’s not an easy way to win games when you gotta come back from down two.”
The shorthanded goal from Zolnierczyk was the Admirals fourteenth of the season. That puts them in the league lead for shorthanded goals in the 2017-18 season. The Syracuse Crunch, at thirteen shorthanders, are now alone in second place.
With 1:10 remaining in regulation, during a power-play chance, the Admirals used their timeout. Lindbäck skated to the bench for an extra attacker seconds later but the Griffins’ penalty-kill did the job and held off the Admirals late push.
Both starting goalies were great tonight. Tom McCollum stopped 21/22 shots in the win while Anders Lindbäck stopped 28/30 shots. With the victory, McCollum earned his thirteenth win of the season.
“The games are tight. You’ve gotta capitalize,” said Evason. “But it is hard to be incredibly negative because you can’t dispute that we’re playing the game a lot of the time the right way. We just have to believe that the break, the opportunities, are going to turn around. It can turn around like that. Although it looks bleak, obviously that we lost to a divisional team tonight, we’re still in a position to go on a run and see where we sit at the end of the year.”
The Milwaukee Admirals will now head to Rockford to face the IceHogs at the BMO Harris Bank Center on Friday night. They return home at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Sunday for a showdown with the Iowa Wild.
“All of these games are divisional games,” said defenseman John Ramage of the upcoming schedule. “You can drop quick or climb quick. So, our focus is the next game playing Rockford.”
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals last played on Saturday night, there have not been any roster moves made within the organization. Tonight’s line combinations were Zolnierczyk-Smith-Butler, Richard-Gaudet-Gaudreau, Bollig-Pettersson-Zengerle, Trenin-McNeill-Moy, Oligny-Dougherty, Carrier-Ramage, Lyytinen-Granberg. Tonight’s scratches were Fred Allard (undisclosed), Cody Bass (upper-body), Justin Kirkland (undisclosed), and Trevor Mingoia (healthy).
What were your thoughts on tonight’s game? How much does this recent offensive struggle scare you for the playoff push?
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