Mrazek Wins Battle of Netminders in 1-0 Shootout Victory
Evans scores winner in 5th round...
By Jason Kasiorek
February 21st, 2014
Petr Mrazek seems to be settling back into his groove after spending most of the first half in Detroit (NHL). The second year goaltender made 29 saves to outduel Milwaukee's Scott Darling and earn his second shutout of the season. Veteran defenseman Brennan Evans provided the heroics in the shootout, scoring a beautiful goal in the fifth round to seal the win for Grand Rapids. Martin Frk, Adam Almquist and Cory Emmerton also had shoot-out goals for the Griffins.
Ferraro sprung Emmerton on a shorthanded breakaway, but an Admiral's defender got back enough to drive him wide for a shot from the circle that hit Darling. Paetsch got a little overly physical while on the PK and ended up in the box leaving GR down by two. Ferraro came out of the box and got hit with a breakout pass. He couldn't handle it and then lost a foot race with Darling for the loose puck. Emmerton having words behind the play with Tousignant. Shots on Goal: GR 6 - Mil 11.
Ferraro left the ice with a towel on his face and then headed to the room for repairs. Grand Rapids in penalty trouble again, giving the Admirals another 5-on-3. The penalty killers were up to the task and killed it off. Tousignant engaged Evans in a bout by the penalty boxes, and the Griffins veteran obliged, working him over pretty good, raining down head shots in a very one sided fight. Callahan had two great chances pouncing on the puck as he cut through the slot. Grant on the rush fired a point blank shot on Darling, and Callahan coming late had a great chance with the rebound. Marchenko had a hard time getting off the ice following a collision, and couldn't put any weight on his left leg. He had to be helped down the tunnel to the room and did not return. Shots on Goal: GR 19 - Mil 10.
Callahan got boarded by Valentine, setting up a Grand Rapids 5-on-3 powerplay. Tousignant trying to get at Callahan in the worst way, but the officials intervene. Jensen just about turned the puck over in front, but recovered enough to dump it. Paetsch couldn't hold it in at the line again, and another good chance goes by the wayside. Shots on Goal: GR 11 - Mil 7.
Nestrasil dangling the puck and really pressuring the net. He circled and had a great chance form the slot and then again with the rebound. Pulkkinen had a big shot down the middle on Darling, but he made the save to preserve the tie. Shots on Goal: GR 3 - Mil 1. For the Game: GR 30 - OKC 29.
Saponari went first for Milwaukee, shooting straight down the middle and firing a quick shot that Mrazek deflected with a pad. Martin Frk was the first shooter for Grand Rapids. The rookie winger showed off his hands, skating in slowly, faking a shot and then ripping it past Darling for a goal. Round two started with the Admiral's Tousignant scoring five-hole on Mrazek and Almquist doing a nice stutter-step move and scoring stick-side. Forsberg was the third shooter for Milwaukee and he sped in on net and tucked the puck in under Mrazek. Louis-Marc Aubry fired a weak shot from in close that Darling handled easily.
Beck started the fourth round by scoring on Mrazek, stick-side followed by Cory Emmerton, who made a nice move to freeze Darling and then roofed it. Moser was next for the admirals and fired a high shot that Mrazek snared. When they announced the next shooter was Brennan Evans, a lot of people were scratching their heads. While a tremendous defenseman, he is not the first name you think of when you think of scoring. Blashill obviously knew what he was doing as Evans skated in, made a couple of back and forth moves and slid the puck under Darling for the shootout winning goal. The crowd was stunned at first and then erupted into cheers. Darling was so mad he immediately broke his stick over the net and skated off the ice. He didn't even come back out when announced as the 2nd star of the game.
Hoggan - Emmerton - Ferraro
Pulkkinen - Jarnkrok - Nestrasil
Grant - McIntyre - Callahan
Frk - Aubry - Parkes
Paetsch - Marchenko
Evans - Sproul
Jensen - Almquist
Nestrasil - Jarnkrok - Callahan
Pulkkinen - Almquist
Hoggan - Emmerton - Ferraro
Sproul - Paetsch
Callahan/Nestrasil - Jarnkrok
Evans - Almquist
Emmerton - Ferraro/McIntyre/Callahan
Paetsch - Marchenko
For such a low scoring affair, it was a pretty good game. Lots of intensity, and several good chances, especially late in the game.
Taking nothing away from the great game that Mrazek played in earning the shutout, but Andrej Nestrasil was my player of the game.
While the stocky winger has been coming on for sometime, last night, he found an extra gear. There were times in the second half of the game that he had the puck on a string, and in overtime, certainly looked jurco-esque as he dangled the puck and embarrassed a couple of Admirals defenders. His strong play in all three zones and his growing faceoff prowess are leading to better linemates and more ice time. Hopefully this is the start of a new level of play for him.
The shootout goal by Evans was absolutely sick, I don't think anyone in the arena expected him to pull off those moves and deke out Darling, unreal! Also have to say for all of his hard work that rarely shows up on the scoresheet, it is always nice to see him rewarded.
Another big game by Callahan as he had the puck around the net all night and despite only being credited with 4 shots, had twice as many scoring chances.
Nathan Paetsch had a tough weekend for the Griffins. He was beat to the outside several times, and just looked to be laboring. Last season he was a defensive rock, this season, it is a game to game thing. Hopefully he is just playing through an injury and will return to form soon.
Watching Marchenko try to get to the bench and then need help to get down the tunnel left a sinking feeling in my stomach. It looked serious, hopefully not, as a prolonged absence would not help the Griffins enjoy a long playoff run.