|Handshake line... (Credit: Josh Rasmussen/Texas Stars)
The Stars were complimentary of the Ads' game all series. They respected the game that Milwaukee brought every night and didn't look past the Ads because they were the eighth seed.
"They're a good team and were rolling coming into the postseason," said Kevin Connauton postgame. "They're a hard working team that likes to break you down, get pucks deep and forecheck. It was a matter of being discplined with our systems. We had all the tools to beat them."
One of the big pieces of that toolbox was Connauton himself, who has four points in four games so far in the playoffs. His assist tonight was the primary on the game-winning goal off the stick of Alex Chiasson.
"All the series was close," added Coach Desjardins. "Every game was close. If you go to a fifth game, anything can happen."
Texas came in with a "do-or-die mentality", according to Connauton, not wanting to take the chance in that deciding fifth game on Saturday.
Cristopher Nilstorp was spectacular again, allowing the only goal of the game on a defensive breakdown early in the third. He pushed aside 34 of 35 shots on the night and had some dazzling efforts in the third as the Admirals shelled the net with 18 shots.
After waiting 47 minutes for a goal on Wednesday, fans didn't have to wait for long tonight. Ten minutes in, Matt Fraser put a centering feed from Colton Sceviour between the pads of Magnus Hellberg for the 1-0 lead. It was his second of the playoffs. Brett Sonne had the second assist, his first point in his first game of these playoffs.
"The whole series we wanted that first goal to get control," said Fraser.
"You want to be the team to get the first one and get them on their heels," added Connauton. "We were focusing on that big start."
Texas pushed even harder in the second and got rewarded early with Alex Chiasson's second of the playoffs. A strong effort by the Dowling-Hedden-Chiasson line to keep the puck in for an extended period put the puck on the stick of Kevin Connauton at the left point. His shot was tipped home by Chiasson in the slot for the 2-0 lead.
"It was good to get the lead," said Desjardins. "[But] we knew they'd come hard in the third."
Facing elimination, the Ads turned up the heat on the Stars. Just 100 seconds into the third, Kevin Henderson potted his only goal of the playoffs as Texas was unable to get the puck out and Henderson pounced on a rebound.
"We had a bit of a breakdown [on the goal]," commented Desjardins.
The rest of the way it was edge-of-your-seat action. The Stars killed a Glennie holding minor and then held on through the rest of the period, including a minute and a half of 6-on-5 hockey to end it.
The Stars do not know who they will play in the second round yet. Possibilities are all South Division opponents, however. If Houston wins their series, Texas will play the Aeros. If not, they will play the winner of the OKC-Charlotte series. Both series will be decided Saturday night.
Texas will be hosting one of those three teams with Games 1 and 2 to fall Thursday, May 9th and Saturday, May 11th.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Vause, McKenzie, Klingberg, Sloan, Wrenn, Jokipakka, Cameron, Faksa, Todd, Commodore (scratch)
Nemeth, Morin (injured)
Morin was out in tonight's game after taking a puck to the face in Game 3. He is expected to be back for Game 1. Sonne came in for him. Desjardins on Sonne: "Sonne played really well. It's hard to go from not playing to the first line. He played well and was solid."
Tonight's attendance was 5,493.
AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Milwaukee - May 3 2013