|(Credit: Milwaukee Admirals)|
It's no surprise given the season series that this would be a tight game with the Milwaukee Admirals beating the Texas Stars 2-1 tonight in Game 1 of the Central Division Finals from Wisconsin. Special teams were a huge part of the victory for the Admirals as the best power play team in the regular season netted two against Texas.
A series isn't a series until someone loses a home game, however. And the Ads are simply holding serve with a win in their own building. Milwaukee had one of the league's best records on the road so it's imperative that Texas steal one in Wisconsin.
The Stars scored first with a strong suit for them, the transition game. Rhett Gardner rode down the left-wing side and sniped one past Yaroslav Askarov's glove hand. The Stars were 31-7-3-2 in the regular season when scoring first, but the goal wouldn't stand up all the way to the end of the period.
A power play yielded the Admirals' first goal of the night. Special teams were important for the Admirals throughout the game, including a third period 5-on-3 that delivered the dagger that sent Texas down in the series 1-0. In the first period, Luke Evangelista, one of those noted assignments from Nashville, was the triggerman on the tying goal.
Texas had a few solid chances to regain their lead in the first, including a double chance from Nick Caamano and Scott Reedy where Askarov just got large enough to cut off the angle on both attempts.
The second period was largely uneventful on the scoresheet with no goals and a power play each direction.
The aforementioned 5-on-3 came in the third period and it was a lengthy one. It was not only the advantage that was painful, but also the personnel who were in the box. Ryan Shea and Rhett Gardner, two of the club's top defensive players, were the ones taking a seat.
Two men down it was Joakim Kemell with the go-ahead goal. Texas is an excellent PK team but the Ads were the best team in the league on the power play in the regular season.
Texas was unable to apply the pressure that they needed to get the tying goal. It seemed like they had a lot of trouble establishing zone time and getting a clean entry with time winding down.
The Stars lace them up again tomorrow night at 6 PM CT for Game 2. Of particular note will be the loss of Will Butcher and whether he is able to return tomorrow. Texas played much of the third with five defensemen, which included Dawson Barteaux in for Oskari Laaksonen.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Olofsson, Harley, Wells (callup)
Thomson, Mastrodonato, Stranges, Grushnikov, Berard, Wheatcroft, Arcuri, Laaksonen (scratch)
Rosburg (out for season - upper-body injury)
Karlstrom (out for season - knee injury)
Texas lost Will Butcher in the third period to injury. He did not return.
Tonight's attendance was 4,044.
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