Ekholm Scores OT Game Winner, Hellberg Gets First North American Win

Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images North America)

When Magnus Hellberg was the 2nd round draft pick of the Nashville Predators in 2011, tonight probably wasn’t what he had in mind while making his first start in North America. Within 4 minutes of the start of the game, Hellberg had seen 2 shots in the American Hockey League, and both ended up in the net behind him. 2:32 into the game, Aeros defense man Chay Genoway beat Hellberg glove side on the first shot of the game. Just 31 seconds later, Hellberg went behind the net to play a puck, but couldn’t get back to the goal in time and Kris Foucault scored over Hellberg’s glove. 

The Admirals took advantage of a couple penalties late in the first and cashed in on a 5 on 3 power-play to cut the lead in half. With only 20 seconds to play in the first, Admirals defense man Jon Blum took a shot from the point that ricocheted off a couple legs and found Taylor Beck in front of the net who buried it for his first of the year to make the score 2-1. It was the first 1st period goal of the year for the Admirals. 

Admirals Coach Dean Evason talked during the pregame that he wanted his team to get more dirty goals, and he got exactly that late in the 2nd. After a nice pass from Scott Valentine, Austin Watson had a few hacks at a puck in front of the net to keep the play alive, it trickled to Mark Van Guilder on the near post who tapped it home his first of the year to tie the game at 2. 

The third period saw tons of action for each team, and Houston finally grabbed a 3-2 lead on a goal by Jonas Brodin who scored off a face off win by Chad Rau. Hellberg never saw it, and it was the 3rd goal of the night to go over the glove of the rookie netminder. Less than a minute later Chris Mueller tied the game at 3. Mueller gloved the puck out of the air, and slid a backhander beyond Hackett for his 2nd of the year. Assists went to Latta and Beck. 54 seconds after that, Kevin Henderson was alone in front of the slot and scored under the right arm pit of Hackett to give the Admirals a 4-3 lead. A turnover came to Austin Watson, who fed Henderson for the goal. It was Watson’s 2nd assist of the night.

Houston tied the game at 19:02 of the third period. With Hackett on the bench, the Aeros won the draw and scored through the legs of Hellberg, on a deflection. The goal was credited to Nick Palmieri, with assists going to Marco Scandella and Zack Phillips.

This was the first overtime game for either club this year…and it didn’t last long. With the Admirals on the 4-3 powerplay they controlled play from the face-off. Moments after Taylor Beck hit the post, Mattias Ekholm took a pass from Chris Mueller and blasted the game winner past the glove of Matt Hackett 51 seconds in for the game winner. 

After a rough start, Magnus Hellburg stopped 16 of 20 for his first North American win. As the team surrounded him, back up goalie Jeremy Smith went down to the other side of the ice to collect the puck for him. How do you say mantle in Swedish?

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