It looks worse on the score sheet than it actually was, but the Admirals first playoff game was still anything but pretty. Milwaukee dropped the first game of their best of five series last night 6-2, with Toronto scoring their last two on empty nets. The Admirals will have a chance to even the series up at one tonight at seven.
After starting the game with some solid offensive opportunities, the Admirals went cold late in the first period. Late in the first Milwaukee had their first defensive blunder of the game, leaving Sam Carrick alone behind the net and allowing him to skate right in front of the Admirals crease. Carrick took the opportunity and buried an easy goal. From there the Marlies never looked back.
After a Josh Leivo goal gave Toronto a two goal lead early in the second period, Patrick Cehlin finally injected some energy into the Admirals with his deflection into the net. However, the issue that has surfaced with Milwaukee all season reared it's head again, as Toronto responded just over a minute later. The Admirals defense looked out of place again on a 4-on-4 and a T.J. Brennan was allowed a clear lane for a slap shot.
"We felt that things were going in the right direction," said Dean Evason. "You gain the momentum, then all of a sudden it shifts back."
After it felt like Jerry D'Amigo put it away when he made it 4-1, Drew MacIntyre accidentally kicked the puck into his own net to make it a two goal game again. However, the Admirals weren't able to create many quality opportunities in the third until after they gave up two empty netters.
The Admirals had trouble staying out of the box, totaling 14 minutes in penalties. That includes three high sticking penalties and two tripping penalties.
"We were careless with our sticks," said Evason. "We thought our stick detail pretty much all night wasn't good... It's easy to hold your composure when you're up. When you're down it's difficult."
Overall the team looked very flat, getting very few offensive opportunities. Francis Wathier said that it was good that the second game is only a day later so they can put this one behind them. With the loss the Admirals will need to win two of the three games in Toronto in order to win the series.
"That's playoff hockey," said Wathier. "It's going to be tough, it's going to be rough, and it's going to be intense every shift. It's a learning lesson for everyone. We've got a very young team. Everybody's got to learn."
Here are the video highlights from the Toronto perspective: