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Admirals stay alive, send series back to Milwaukee


MILWAUKEE 4, HOUSTON 3

Scoreless in his first four games for Milwaukee, Bryan Smolinski broke out with two unassisted goals and a helper on Saturday as the Admirals staved off elimination with a 4-3 win over Houston at Toyota Center in Game 5 of the West Division Finals.

Milwaukee cut its series deficit to 3-2 and will host Game 6 on Monday. With another victory, the Admirals can force a Game 7 on Wednesday night.

The Aeros struck first for the third consecutive game when Corey Locke bagged the first of his two power play goals on the night at 9:13 of the opening period.

But Smolinski, a veteran of 1,056 NHL games, answered just 56 seconds later with his first career AHL goal. He then gave Milwaukee the lead for good with his second of the game at the 18:28 mark. Both goals came unassisted.

The Admirals extended their lead in the second period on goals by Andreas Thuresson at 5:03 – assisted by Smolinski – and Kelsey Wilson at 10:24, his first of the postseason.

Trailing 4-1 heading into the third period, Houston attempted a late comeback as its potent power play struck twice. Locke potted his second of the night and league-leading seventh goal of the playoffs at 8:52. Robbie Earl made it 4-3 with another man-advantage score at 18:10, but the Aeros were unable to get the equalizer and fell to 4-2 at home this postseason.

Houston finished a perfect 3-for-3 on the power play and has clicked 29.6 percent of the time (16-for-54) with the man advantage in the playoffs.

Admirals goaltender Drew MacIntyre held on for the victory, finishing with 27 saves on 30 shots in net. Milwaukee became just the second team to win an elimination game so far this playoff year; Peoria defeated Houston in Game 6 of the division semifinals before bowing out in Game 7.

West Division Finals – Series “L” (best-of-7)
W1-Milwaukee Admirals vs. W3-Houston Aeros || Preview
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 30 – Houston 2, MILWAUKEE 1
Game 2 – Sat., May 2 – MILWAUKEE 4, Houston 1
Game 3 – Tue., May 5 – HOUSTON 3, Milwaukee 1
Game 4 – Thu., May 7 – HOUSTON 2, Milwaukee 0
Game 5 – Sat., May 9 – Milwaukee 4, HOUSTON 3
Game 6 – Mon., May 11 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00
*Game 7 – Wed., May 13 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00