The Milwaukee Admirals and Yaroslav Askarov are always in gains season.
The Nashville Predators top prospect put on a netminding clinic Friday night as the Admirals stonewalled the Rockford Icehogs 2-1 in a shootout win behind Askarov’s 45-save performance.
Despite the pucks flying at him fast and furious throughout the evening, the Omsk native was able to keep the Admirals in the game and help them win the two points. Most impressive from Askarov, however, may have been his post-game celly, which caught the hockey world’s attention.
The form. Magnificent.
The “cojones”. Undeniable.
Askarov was immediately dialed in, including a brilliant 2-on-1 save off rebound that required quick reflexes as well as a faster recovery to frustrate opposition.
While the Icehogs did eventually solve the Predators’ 2020 first-round pick, robbing him of a third shutout of the season that would’ve pushed him into a tie for second in the AHL, his pristine .978 save percentage on the affair did earn him first-star honours for the evening.
Askarov’s third straight strong performance in the game is also a significant milestone. He has had a disappointing rookie AHL season since moving from the KHL. For a.969 save rate, the 20-year old has stopped 94 of 97 shots and allowed only one goal in each of his games.
Askarov has long been considered one of the most impressive young goalies to come out of Russia — his age-18 KHL save percentage of .951 ranks third all-time amongst goalies with a minimum of five games played, ahead of names like Ilya Sorokin and Igor Shesterkin — and seems likely to eventually usurp Juuse Saros as the Predators goaltender of the future. It may not be possible, however. Askarov was unable to make his NHL debut in Nashville this season, giving up four goals on 35 shots, in a 4-3 loss against the Montreal Canadiens in January.
Askarov’s record in the AHL this season is 16-9-5, with a 2.60 GAA (and a.909 save%).
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