Aeros 0, Admirals 7
Josh Olson intermission interview (WAV file)
Admirals 7; Aeros 0; Admirals lead best-of-seven series, 2-0
Official Box Score
MILWAUKEE, Wisc. – Jordin Tootoo recorded a natural hat trick, rookie defenseman Shea Weber tallied two goals and an assist, Scottie Upshall scored an early tone-setting goal and All-Star Pekka Rinne made 32 saves, as the Milwaukee Admirals routed the Houston Aeros 7-0 in Game 2 of the West Division Final at Bradley Center. Milwaukee, which earned a 5-4 win in Game 1 on Thursday, saw its first six goals scored by players who were in the NHL a week ago, before Sean McAslan – who just signed with the team April 24 – scored the final goal. Click here to buy tickets to Game 3 in Houston, Sunday at 6:05 p.m.
Josh Harding made 16 stops for Houston, which has never dropped the first two games of a best-of-seven series and suffered its worst playoff loss since a 7-0, series-clinching decision at Chicago in Game 5 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals. Harding has lost back-to-back starts for the first time since late October. He was replaced by Seamus Kotyk to begin the third. Kotyk made eight saves on 10 shots.
Only 17 teams in AHL history have rallied from a 2-0 deficit to claim a series. However, it’s happened four times in the last three post-seasons. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has done it three times, while the Penguins and Manitoba Moose each did it in this season’s division semifinal round.
Upshall and Weber were each assigned to the Admirals by the parent Nashville Predators prior to Game 1, while Tootoo rejoined Milwaukee prior to Game 7 of the West Division Semifinals against Iowa.
Game 2 began eerily similar to Game 1, when Milwaukee scored a power play goal 4:06 into the contest. This time, it was 5:26 in, with Upshall providing the man advantage goal. He took a feed from Sheldon Brookbank at his own blueline and skated coast to coast, splitting Kirby Law and Chris Ovington inside the Aeros’ blueline and snapping a low shot by Harding for his first of the post-season.
The Aeros scored first in each of their four games in the West Division semifinals against Peoria, but Milwaukee has struck first in each game of this series.
Houston got back in it quickly in Game 1, but the Admirals quickly extended to a two-goal advantage, 1:16 later. Libor Pivko, who played just one of Milwaukee’s first eight post-season games due to injury, dug a loose puck out of the right corner and fed Weber, teed up at the top of the right circle. Weber wound up and blasted a shot over Harding’s glove for his first of the playoffs.
Rinne robbed Aeros rookie Benoit Pouliot – making his pro debut – with 8:15 left in the first. Pouliot tried to rebound Erik Reitz’ point blast inside the near post, but Rinne ranged back over for the stop.
Seconds later on the other end, Upshall broke out of the penalty box and fired a clear breakaway shot just wide.
The Aeros got three straight power plays in the first, but couldn’t solve Rinne. This marked just the second period in six games of the post-season that Houston didn’t score a goal.
Houston was undisciplined to begin the second period, taking a pair of penalties leading to two full minutes of a 5-on-3. Reitz dumped agitator Tootoo in front, and Erik Westrum whacked Upshall to the ice with a cross check.
Harding made his save of the post-season midway through the advantage. Simon Gamache got loose in the deep slot for a rebound attempt, and Harding made a great save on his backside. But seconds later, 3:10 into the middle period, Weber ripped a shot top shelf over Harding for his second of the game for a 3-0 lead.
Westrum almost got Houston on the board less than a minute later when his shot went off an Admirals skate and nearly by Rinne and into the net.
Joel Ward nearly got the Aeros on the board on a shorthanded 2-on-1 with 11:42 left in the second. He unloaded from the left circle but hit the near post. The puck then went off Rinne’s skate, and towards the goal line, but Rinne fell on the puck. It eventually crossed the line as Peter Olvecky crashed the net, but referee Brian Pochmara’s whistle had already blown.
Rinne made an outstanding glove save on Curtis Murphy’s power play drive from the left point at the midway point of the second.
Tootoo’s second of the series and third in three post-season games pushed the lead to 4-0 with 5:05 left in the middle period. Tootoo took a pass from Kevin Klein outside the Aeros’ blueline and walked untouched to the area between the circles. Tootoo ripped a low shot by Harding glove side.
Tootoo quickly followed with his third of the series and fourth in three games for a 5-0 advantage with 9.5 ticks left in the second. Greg Classen spent several seconds all alone behind the net before skating into the left circle. He passed the puck to a cutting Tootoo, who blasted a shot from the low slot by Harding.
Tootoo’s seemingly harmless centering pass on a power play went off Aeros rookie defenseman Shawn Belle’s skate and into the net 4:16 into the third.
Tempers flared 4:29 into the third when Chris Durno ran Reitz hard into the board. Aeros rookie defenseman Clayton Stoner then battled Paul Brown in front of the Houston net.
McAslan, scratched in Game 1, finished off the rout with a rebound goal with 11:34 remaining. Tootoo hit the post bidding for his fourth goal less than two minutes later.
The Admirals got six straight minutes of power play time late in the game after Scott Ferguson went for high-sticking, and 1:57 later Westrum got two minutes for a high stick and then an unsportsmanlike minor for arguing. Aeros nemesis Gamache rang a shot off the post midway through the advantage.
A roughing penalty on Brookbank cut the long power play short by 1:26.
Houston finished 0-for-8 on the power play, while Milwaukee went 3-for-8.