Admirals 7; Aeros 4; Admirals lead best-of-seven series, 3-0
Official Box Score
HOUSTON, Texas – Simon Gamache scored one of Milwaukee’s three shorthanded goals and had three assists, Darren Haydar and Scottie Upshall each had a goal and two helpers, and Shea Weber tallied his third goal in two nights, as the Milwaukee Admirals knocked off the Houston Aeros 7-4 at Toyota Center to take a three games to none lead in the West Division Final. Kevin Klein, Libor Pivko and Jordin Tootoo had a goal apiece and Pekka Rinne made 26 saves for Milwaukee, which went 3-for-11 on the power play. Click here to buy tickets to Game 4 in Houston, Tuesday at 7:35 p.m. Not dressing for the Aeros were Chris Ovington, Miroslav Kopriva, A.J. Thelen, Colin Peters, Ryan Hamilton, Bill Kinkel, Benoit Pouliot and Brendan Bernakevitch. Milwaukee has announced dates and times for Games 6 and 7, now that the Bucks are out of the NBA Playoffs. Game 6, if necessary, is at Bradley Center on Saturday at 7 p.m. Game 7, also if necessary, is set for Tuesday, May 15 at 7 p.m. in Milwaukee. The team scoring first has lost in regulation just once in 11 meetings this season. Stoner and O’Sullivan raised another $100 for the Watson Family Foundation’s “Rookies for Ronald” program. The donation is up to $450. Harding’s 30 saves pushed the “Saves: Saving Lives” donation to $2,160.
Matt Foy, Patrick O’Sullivan and Clayton Stoner each had a goal and an assist, Greg Mauldin also scored and Josh Harding made 30 stops for Houston, which will have to become just the third team in AHL history to recover from a 3-0 series deficit in order to advance. Kirby Law and Curtis Murphy each supplied two assists.
The Aeros had never allowed more than one shorthanded goal in any playoff game in team history. Houston allowed 15 goals in its first two playoff games ever in 1995, but hadn’t allowed more than 10 in back-to-back games since. The Aeros also yielded a franchise playoff record 11 power plays.
Milwaukee outshot Houston 12-6 in the first period with the help of three power plays, and the Admirals took a 1-0 lead at 11:51 on the second man advantage. Gamache floated a pass back to Weber at the right point, and Weber rifled a shot through traffic and over Harding’s shoulder for his third goal in two games.
The Aeros had their best chance of the first on a late power play. But Law hit the outside of the net with a rebound of a Murphy drive.
On that same power play, Gamache’s shorthanded goal pushed the advantage to 2-0 with 2:37 remaining. Upshall picked Stoner’s pocket at the Admirals blueline and skated up the ice 2-on-1 with Gamache. Upshall slid a right to left pass to Gamache, who went low on a sprawled-out Harding for his team-leading seventh of the post-season.
Houston failed to record a shot over a 14 minute stretch until the final minute of the first.
The teams combined for seven goals in a wild second period, but the Admirals were able to extend to a 6-3 lead after 40 minutes.
O’Sullivan backhanded a shot from the right circle with Houston on the power play early in the second, but Rinne made the save. The rebound sat on the deck, but Milwaukee cleared it away.
Houston then got 40 seconds of 5-on-3 time, and Foy scored his team-leading fifth of the playoffs to snap a skid of more than 80 scoreless minutes for Houston. O’Sullivan set up Law in the low slot, but Rinne made a pad save. Foy was there to pop the puck just inside the far post with 3:33 gone in the second.
However, it took just 52 seconds for Haydar to answer with his seventh of the playoffs, with the Admirals still shorthanded. Gamache broke in 2-on-1 with Haydar in a play that seemed in slow motion. Gamache, in the left circle, slid a pass to Haydar, who stood alone in the right circle and floated the puck into the net.
Milwaukee received 1:21 of 5-on-3 time after back-to-back calls to Bryan Lundbohm and Scott Ferguson, and just after the first penalty expired, Law went to the box for tripping, resulting in another 35 seconds of two-man advantage.
Stoner got the Aeros back within a goal with 10:59 left in the second, with a 4-on-4 goal. Foy chipped the puck out of the zone to Peter Olvecky, who raced in 2-on-1 with Stoner. Olvecky chipped a pass to Stoner in the deep slot, and the rookie defenseman put a shot under Rinne.
Rinne kept the game from being tied two minutes later. A rebound floated gently out to Lundbohm in between the circles. He skated in ripped a shot destined for just inside the far post, but Rinne made a great toe save.
But Upshall restored the lead to two goals with 7:23 left in the second. Westrum’s clearing attempt went off a teammate’s skate to Rich Peverley at the right point. Peverley stepped into a shot and Harding made the save. But Upshall was waiting unmolested at the left doorstep to put the puck into the net for his second of the post-season.
Milwaukee’s third shorthanded goal of the game pushed the lead to 5-3 with 5:39 remaining in the second. Greg Classen blocked a pass just inside the Milwaukee blueline and skated ahead with Klein on a 2-on-1. Classen sent a pass to a cutting Klein, who went high to beat Harding for his second of the playoffs.
O’Sullivan, though, got Houston within 5-3 with 3:09 left in the middle period. He deflected Murphy’s drive from the left point under Rinne for his third of the post-season.
The Admirals got yet another 42 seconds of 5-on-3 time late in the second, and it took just 10 seconds for Milwaukee to take a 6-3 lead. Pivko slapped a shot from the right circle through traffic and under Harding for his first of the post-season.
Early in the third, it was another 15 seconds of two-man advantage time for the Admirals, who capitalized quickly. Tootoo, at the right doorstep, finished off an easy feed from Peverley for his sixth in four playoff games.
Mauldin scored his first of the post-season off a drop pass from Murphy with 7:59 left, bringing the Aeros within 7-4.
Any further comeback was halted in the final six minutes, when Olvecky and Ryan Stokes were called for back-to-back penalties, resulting in the Admirals’ 10th and 11th power plays of the game.
Houston finished 2-for-7 on the power play, while Milwaukee went 3-for-11.