In what ended up being a tumultuous weekend for the Nashville Predators organization, the Milwaukee Admirals split their weekend matchups. On Friday they lost to the Texas Stars 4-1 and on Saturday they shutout the Rockford IceHogs 3-0.
Friday November 30 vs. Texas Stars (Home)
The Admirals had their first game since last Saturday at home against the Texas Stars. This was the second matchup between these two teams this season. The Admirals won the first on October 6th at Texas. However, the Admirals fell 4-1 the night after the Predators lost 3-0 against the Arizona Coyotes.
The first two periods of the game were all Texas. The two teams were tied in shots on goal throughout the first two periods. Milwaukee led 9-8 in the first and Texas led 11-10 in the second. Milwaukee’s Mathieu Olivier took a slashing penalty at 13:40, which gave Texas one of their two powerplays for the evening. Scoring started at 14:32 when Texas rightwinger Erik Condra scored his eighth goal of the season on the powerplay. Travis Morin (9) and Justin Dowling (12) had the assists. Milwaukee’s Jeremy Gregoire dropped the gloves after the goal with Texas’ Dillon Heatherington who were both given five-minute fighting majors. Milwaukee did have two powerplay opportunities during the first period at 1:20 when Shane Hanna was called for slashing and again at 19:20 Nicholas Caamano was also called for slashing.
The second period basically ensured that Texas would walk away with the win. At 7:39 Adam Mascherin scored his first goal of the evening against Milwaukee netminder Troy Grosenick. Mascherin then scored again at 18:04 for his eighth goal of the season. There were three penalties throughout the period. At 10:02 Connor Brickley shot the puck out of play in the defensive zone. Milwaukee then got two powerplay opportunities. One at 14:13 when Joel L’Esperance was called for high-sticking. The next at 18:19 Adam Mascherin was called for tripping. Texas was able to kill both penalties.
The third period saw Joel L’Esperance (9) score the fourth goal of the game for Texas at 8:52. Milwaukee had another powerplay opportunity at 16:48 when Niklas Hansson was called for tripping. This allowed Matt Donovan to score at least one goal for Milwaukee (on the powerplay no less) at 17:00. This was Donovan’s ninth goal of the season. Frederic Allard (15) and Zach Magwood (3) had the assists.
Milwaukee continued to struggle on the powerplay in this matchup. Despite getting one powerplay goal in the third, they had five other powerplay opportunities throughout the evening and failed to capitalize on any of them.
Eeli Tolvanen did not play in this matchup as it was becoming clear that he was going to be called up to Nashville to make up for Filip Forsberg being placed on IR the next day.
This loss snapped a four game winning streak for the Milwaukee Admirals.
Saturday December 1 vs. Rockford IceHogs (Away)
On to happier notes. It was unclear what this Milwaukee Admirals game was going to look like. Eeli Tolvanen was officially recalled by the Nashville Predators on Saturday morning. It was later confirmed that Filip Forsberg would be placed on IR, which left a big hole in Nashville’s offensive prowess. Anthony Richard would get his NHL debut as well, arriving in Nashville at about 4:15pm on Saturday and heading straight to the rink for the matchup. All of that to say this, Richard and Tolvanen are two of Milwaukee’s top scorers. Making it all the more impressive that Milwaukee shut out Rockford 3-0 in Rockford.
The beginning of the first period was pretty even for both teams. It wasn’t until late into the first period that the Admirals were ready to start lighting the lamp. Admirals’ defenseman Filip Pyrochta (3) ripped a shot from the top of the circle that was deflected behind Rockford goaltender Anton Forsberg by Connor Brickley for his fourth goal of the season. Brian Cooper (2) had the secondary assist.
Milwaukee’s second goal was not far away when less than three minutes later Rockford center Luke Johnson tried to clear the puck out of their zone when it was deflected by Tyler Gaudet (6) and settled right before the blue line where Alexandre Carrier was able to take possession and put a shot on net from the top of the circle. Forsberg was able to stop the puck with his right pad, but Carrier continued to crash the net and scored before knocking the net off its moorings. This was Carrier’s first goal of the season. There wasn’t a single penalty in the first period. Milwaukee led 13-8 in SOG.
Both goaltenders were able to keep the second period scoreless. McCollum turned away 13 Rockford shots in the second, but Forsberg only faced four shots by Milwaukee. Rockford did have a powerplay opportunity at 4:18 in the second period when Matt Donovan was called for hooking. At the end of the second period, some pushing and shoving started behind the Rockford net which eventually led to Jarred Tinordi getting Nathan Noel into the Christmas spirit by trying to shove him down to the ice. Both were given two-minute roughing penalties.
The third period was looking similar to the second as both goaltenders were able to keep the period scoreless for eighteen minutes. Both teams had a few powerplays throughout the third. Rockford had powerplays at 7:06 when Justin Kirkland was called for holding. At 14:33 Rockford got a 4-on-3 powerplay as Carrier was called for cross-checking at center ice and Mathieu Olivier was called for boarding. Nathan Noel, however, was given a diving/embellishment penalty after he fell onto the Rockford net and claimed he had been pushed. Milwaukee did get one powerplay at 8:17 when Henrik Samuelsson was called for hooking.
The Admirals were able to tally one last goal after Forsberg was pulled in favor of an extra attacker with about two-minutes left in the period. Justin Kirkland was able to take possession off a pass from Garret Ross (1) at center ice and scored the empty net goal. This was Kirkland’s third goal of the season.
For the first time in three wins, the Admirals were able to walk away with two-points without going into a shootout. This is also Tom McCollum’s first win since October 27th against Manitoba (not including the 6:50 he played in Milwaukee’s blowout victory over Chicago on November 11th). It was also his second shutout of the season.
You wouldn’t have thought that two of Milwaukee’s top scorers weren’t in this matchup. Carrier had 5 SOG and Brickley, Tanner Jeannot, and Kirkland all had 3. The Admirals showed that offensive depth that the Nashville Predators organization has been talking about.
Milwaukee still struggles on the powerplay. These two matches have brought Milwaukee down to 14.3% on the powerplay. The penalty kill is still trending downward and currently sits at 87.4%.
Anthony Richard was assigned back to the Admirals on Monday, but Tolvanen will most likely stay with the Predators until Forsberg is healthy. Players like Kirkland and Emil Pettersson will need to work to make up for him not being there.
After Milwaukee’s loss on Friday to Texas and the Iowa Wild racking up wins, the Admirals’ lead for first in the Central division was again depleted. Both clubs sit with 31 points in the standings, with first being deferred to Iowa as they have played less games.
Milwaukee plays again on Wednesday December 5th at 7:00pm Central at Texas. You can find game recaps here on PenaltyBoxRadio.com.