Over the last four years, the Milwaukee Admirals have dominated the Houston Aeros. Milwaukee held a 19-4-1-1 mark against Houston over the last couple years, including a 5-4 overtime win last Sunday at the Toyota Center. Coming into the game, the Admirals were one of two teams in the American Hockey League who had not scored first in a game this season, with Adirondack being the other. Sadly this wouldn't change tonight.
Turnover seemed to be the word of the night, as that is how Houston got on the board with their first and second goals. Just passed the midway point of the first period, the Admirals we unable to clear the zone when Steve Kampfer held the zone with his skate, got a pass off to Mikeal Granlund who used a backhand pass and found Charlie Coyle on the backdoor for a 1-0 lead. With just under 2 minutes to play in the first, Milwaukee tried clearing the zone, but again a turnover led to an Aeros goal when Kris Foucault fed a pass to Brian Connelly who's shot through traffic found the back of the net to give Houston a 2-0 lead. Milwaukee wasn't able to get anything going in the first period, despite 6 minutes of power play time. They were able to muster 12 shots, but no good chances, and trailed 2-0 after the first period.
The second period featured nothing exciting, but a few interesting things did happen. Admirals Head Coach Dean Evason decided to sit his top two lines for the first 7 minutes of the 2nd period. He rolled the 3rd and 4th line exclusively until the midway point of the period. After the game, Assistant Coach Stan Drulia said the lines earned their extra time "The 4th line was great, they've kept their mouth shut and worked hard" and as for why the first two lines didn't see time he said "We had a couple guys that didn't have good reads on situations and too many guys who were not playing the game we need them to play in order to have success as a group."
Only trailing 2-0 heading to the third period, it was going to be interesting to see which Admirals team would show up in the 3rd period. Would it be the team that's fought through adversity to come back from deficits before, or would it be the team that wouldn't be able to find the net, and make another rare known goalie look amazing. Unfortunately for Admirals fans, it was the latter. Despite outshooting the Aeros in the period 16-11, Aeros goalie Darcy Kuemper shut the door time and time again and the Admirals found themselves shut out for the 2nd time on the road trip.
Houston pushed their lead to 3-0 on Coyle's second goal of the night. Admirals defenseman Joonas Jarvinen tried to slide to block Coyle's initial attempt, but Coyle went around him, and around the net, and beat Jeremy Smith to the other post for the wraparound goal. The Aeros pushed it to 4-0 on a great goal by Johan Larsson. Larsson used a great move to get around Mattias Eckholm, and then pushed it under the cross bar to beat a sprawling Smith for his first career North American goal.
Kuemper was able to hold his ground for his second career shutout stopping all 33 Admirals attempts. Smith stopped 24 of 28 for Milwaukee. With the loss, the Admirals finish the road trip with a 1-3 record, including being shut out twice. The team will return home tomorrow and prepare for a Halloween night showdown with the Charlotte Checkers.