Coming into the season, I'm not sure if the Milwaukee Admirals or the Texas Stars would have had tonight's game circled on the calendar. The Admirals might still need a reminder that there was a game tonight. Then again, now that it's over, they might want to forget.
The Stars decided to start Todd Ford, a wise choice, as he was coming off of back-to-back shutouts. Ford played out of his mind for most of the game tonight. But let's get to the play-by-play.
Just 34 seconds into the game, Scott McCulloch laid a hard hit on an Admirals defender and busted out a glass pane behind and to the right of Milwaukee goalie Chet Pickard. The glass did not break, but simply popped out of its moorings. The game was delayed for approximately 5 minutes as they fixed it. Props to the crew at the CPC; they have gotten much better at fixing things like this from where they started at the beginning of the year.
The Admirals took the first penalty of the game with Nolan Yonkman, a hulking beast of a man at 6 foot 6 inches, taking a holding call just 5 minutes in. The Admirals are abysmal on the road on the kill and it showed. Just 11 seconds later, Hutchinson put one home from the slot with assists from Lindgren and Morin. Morin is really on a tear recently.
The Stars would score on the power play again with a twist on the play from the first goal. At 15:46 of the first, Ivan Vishnevskiy slap-passed the puck to the waiting stick of Aaron Gagnon from the nearly the same point that Hutchinson scored the first goal. Gagnon redirected the "shass" (Shot-pass) into the yawning net from the crease. Wathier and Gagnon were both occupying Pickard in the crease which created the havoc that caused the goal.
The Admirals came out of the intermission fired up and really put Todd Ford through his paces. He did not yield. The Stars managed to get into the offensive zone and used some of that defensive zone know how to score again. Mathieu Beaudoin got his stick in the lane of the attempted clear of an Admirals defender from their defensive zone. He passed to Lindgren on the back door of the goal where Lindgren put it home, unmolested by a Milwaukee defender. It was 3-0.
Texas also showed a lot of grit on the penalty kill in this game against one of the best in the league on the road. Max Fortunus took a tripping minor at 12:33 of the second and it took Milwaukee until the last 10 seconds of the minor to really get setup in the offensive zone. Todd Ford made a great save as the minor expired to maintain the goose egg on the scoreboard.
Mathieu Tousignant would be incarcerated for two minutes late in the second though and the Stars gave up the shutout. Cross ice passes finally got past the Stars and Sulzer's pass across to Wilson ended up in the back of the net. The goal on the power play made it 3-1.
The next goal was a fun one for Sergei Korostin and one that Chet Pickard would love to forget. Pickard deflected a puck off into the corner and Korostin got it and flung it to the net. Pickard couldn't cover the short side and the puck bounced off the padding on his leg and into the net. 4-1 Stars, Korostin from Sceviour and Gagnon.
Pickard would get pulled for the extra attacker earlier than usual in the third with 4:56 remaining. The Stars had quite a bit of difficulty gaining control of the puck in the 6-on-5 and gave up one goal. The Admirals' Jessiman put one glove side high on Todd Ford that it seemed like he didn't see until it was too late. He was well screened by Admirals players.
Finally, the Stars would break out of their own zone and Aaron Gagnon would put the last nail in the coffin with an empty net goal from the blue line to make it 5-2 Stars.
The crowd showed a lot of love for Ford tonight and I think it was well deserved. Todd Ford played great hockey and I don't think he was to blame for either of the goals that went in. That is, I don't think he would have been expected to make the saves and just didn't execute. Ford is definitely the hot hand now, having won 3 straight including 2 shutouts. Tonight's performance was a great audition for at least a time-sharing role, if not a majority of the starts. If you were coach Gulutzan, who do you start on Friday versus Abbotsford, knowing that you will likely play them again on Sunday against Peoria? Also, what do you do when March rolls around and Brent Krahn is healthy enough to rejoin the club? It's something to chew on.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and Krahn (injured)
DeVergilio, Shelast, and Stephenson (scratched)
Peters and Lukowich (NHL call ups)
For the record, I don't really know what the first, second, third, and fourth lines are. I simply place them in the best guess order. Sometimes it's just the order I see them on the ice from when the puck drops. Although usually, whatever line Gazdic is on is the fourth line for me.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Milwaukee - January 26 2010