ROSEMONT, Ill.---The Chicago Wolves saw a 2-1 lead evaporate when they surrendered a pair of power-play goals early in the second period and never regained their edge on the way to a 4-3 loss to the Oklahoma City Barons before 14,533 fans at the Allstate Arena Saturday night.
The two teams entered the night tied for fifth place in the West Division with 79 points each. The win vaulted Oklahoma City (36-25-2-7) into a tie for third place in the tight playoff race.
Defenseman Andrey Zubarev and forwards Spencer Machacek and Riley Holzapfel scored for Chicago (35-26-3-6), which was playing its first game in five days.
“Special teams were the difference,” said Wolves Head Coach Don Lever. “They played a little harder than we did. I thought we’d get our wheels as the game went on, but we didn’t. They outworked us.”
The Barons got the edge first, 1-0, 8:09 into the first period with a shorthanded goal by right wing Colin MacDonald, who raced into the Wolves zone and deposited a wrist shot past Wolves goaltender Edward Pasquale from the right face-off circle.
Chicago wasted no time evening the score 1-1, tallying 1:23 later. Center Andre Deveaux won a face-off in the Barons zone and moved the puck back to Zubarev, who ripped a shot past Barons goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, glove side.
Holzapfel gave the Wolves their first lead of the game, 2-1, when he scooped up a bouncing puck to the left of the goal, moved in and pushed it past Drouin-Deslauriers at 14:26 of the first frame.
Drouin-Deslauriers (13-11-3) turned aside 21 of 24 shots he faced for Oklahoma City.
The Barons tied it up, 2-2, with a power-play goal, 1:35 into the second period. Left wing Philippe Cornet drove into the Wolves zone and pulled up just behind the goal line, before slipping a pass out front for right wing Ben Ondrus to tap past Pasquale.
Oklahoma City moved ahead, 3-2, with a second power-play marker when Bryan Helmer cranked a long shot through traffic and by Pasquale, 3:24 into the second stanza.
The Barons made their lead 4-2 when left wing Jesse Gimblett rifled a shot from high in the left circle past Pasquale with 6:04 remaining in the third period.
Pasquale (8-7-1) made 22 saves for the Wolves.
Chicago pulled back within one, 4-3, when Tim Miller won a face-off in the offensive zone and chipped the puck back to, Machacek who cranked a shot down the slot past Drouin-Deslauriers with 3:54 left to play, but time ran out of the Wolves’ comeback.
The Wolves and Barons will meet again at the Allstate Arena on Sunday at 3 p.m.
Oklahoma City 1 2 1 -- 4
Chicago 2 0 1 -- 3
First Period---1, Oklahoma City, McDonald 32 (Ondrus), 8:09 sh; 2, Chicago, Zubarev 3 (Deveaux), 9:34; 3, Chicago, Holzapfel 10 (Postma, Matheson), 14:26. Penalties---Stortini, Oklahoma City (fighting), 3:00; Huxley, Chicago (fighting), 3:00; Bench, Chicago (too many men), 5:25; Plante, Oklahoma City (tripping), 6:37; Brennan, Chicago (charging), 14:42; Haydar, Chicago (high-sticking, unsportsmanlike conduct), 19:44.
Second Period---4, Oklahoma City, Ondrus 6 (Cornet, Kytnar), 1:35 pp; 5, Oklahoma City, Helmer 5 (Aiello, Moran), 3:24 pp. Penalties---Taylor, Oklahoma City (hooking), 10:49; Taylor, Oklahoma City (roughing), 19:49; Deveaux, Chicago (roughing), 19:49.
Third Period---6, Oklahoma City, Gimblett 1 (Taylor, Lord), 13:56; 7, Chicago, Machacek 18 (Miller), 16:06. Penalties---Marquardt, Oklahoma City (hooking), 2:58; Petiot, Oklahoma City (tripping), 6:50; Machacek, Chicago (tripping), 9:08; Moran, Oklahoma City (hooking), 19:30.
Shots on goal---Oklahoma City: 12-8-6--26. Chicago: 7-7-10--24. Power plays---Oklahoma City: 2-5. Chicago: 0-5. Goalies---Oklahoma City, Drouin-Deslauriers (21-24). Chicago, Pasquale (22-26). A---14,533. Referee---Chris Ciamaga. Linesmen---Roger Behling and Jesse Pletsch.