MILWAUKEE -- Despite having outscored its opponent by a 13-1 margin and holding a decisive two-game lead in the best-of-5 series, Iowa Wild coach Tim Army knew it wouldn't be as easy as just lacing up the skates and going on the ice to finish off the Milwaukee Admirals.
On home ice and facing elimination, the Admirals responded with their best game of the series in Game 3 on Thursday, securing a 3-1 victory over Iowa and extending the series to at least a Game 4 tonight at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
"I think we did some things well, but we weren't as good as we needed to be," Army said. "We won't change how we approach things, maybe a little adjustment here or there. We'll work towards coming back with more composure and playing fast."
Video: Iowa drops Game 3 to Milwaukee
Iowa was chasing early on Thursday as Milwaukee scored the first goal of the game 30 seconds into the contest. It was the exact opposite of the kind of start the Wild was hoping for.
"It gave them confidence," said Iowa defenseman Hunter Warner. "We were really taking it to them in Des Moines. I don't see why we can't do the same thing here. If we start quick and show them that we're back to who we are and playing the way we're supposed to, I think they'll know that we mean business."
The early tally allowed the Admirals to lead from the first time in the series and control the pace of the game. Iowa is the faster, more skilled team, but it found life more difficult trying to create offensively while playing from behind.
"We knew coming back to their building, especially the first 10 [minutes], they always come out really hard," said Iowa captain Cal O'Reilly. "Especially when you're facing elimination, they got the jump on us tonight and they were the better team."
The good news for Iowa is that it is still in control of the series, leading it 2-1. The Wild can wrap it up with a win tonight in Game 4 and hopes to do just that. With the pressure still squarely on Milwaukee, Iowa will try and play a more disciplined game than it did in Game 3.
The Admirals had just seven power plays in Games 1 and 2 back in Des Moines, but had six in Game 3 alone, including two chances with extended 5-on-3s.
The game wasn't without some controversy, however.
Iowa goaltender Andrew Hammond was whistled for a delay of game penalty for knocking the net off its moorings early in the third period when it appeared he accidentally knocked it off while making a sprawling cross-crease save.
Matt Bartkowski was also called for a second-period cross-checking minor moments after it appeared a Milwaukee player was allowed to do the same thing with no call.
Iowa also appeared to benefit from an iffy goaltender interference penalty on Phil Di Giuseppe. Seven seconds into the ensuing power play, Kyle Rau scored Iowa's only goal of the night, narrowing the deficit to 2-1 with more than six minutes remaining in regulation.
Just 69 seconds later, however, Milwaukee made it 3-1, scoring off the rush.
"It's a series, so you just forget about it," OReilly said. "It wasn't our best, they were better, we just need to come out with a better start and then continue it the whole game."
Shaw's status unknown
One unfortunate development to come from Game 3 was an apparent lower-body injury to Wild forward Mason Shaw.
With under five minutes to play in regulation, Shaw was along the wall and poked a loose puck in the offensive zone behind the net. Admirals defenseman Duncan Siemens pinned him against the board, and with Shaw off balance on one leg, appeared to punch Shaw in the side of the head.
Shaw remained on the ice in obvious pain before being assisted back to the dressing room. His status moving forward is not yet known as the team gathers more information today.
If Shaw can't play, it's likely Mitch McLain would take the open spot in the lineup with Colton Beck seeing an increase in ice time.
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