With the Chicago Wolves and Oklahoma City Barons in a four-way tie for the eighth seed in the Calder Cup Playoffs, Wednesday night’s game was a must win for the Wolves. Even more importantly they needed to win a few games as they had lost six of their last eight.
The Barons got on the board first when Anton Lander slid one past Wolves goaltender Matt Climie. It didn’t take the Wolves long to regroup as Danny Groulx found the back of the net just 23 seconds later for his fifth goal of the season. Darren Haydar then added his team-leading 18th goal with just under two minutes to play in the first.
“I need to help contribute, offensively and defensively and get on the board. I come to the rink ready to score every game,” said Wolves captain Haydar.
Much like the first period, the Barons were able to score first in the second as they tied it up four minutes into the period. Alex Plante scored the goal off of a bad turnover when Climie attempted to play the puck around the boards behind the net. The puck bounced out front and all Plante had to do was aim for the empty net. The period was a rather sloppy one with many turnovers by both teams. The Wolves had an opportunity to score when the Barons were given a penalty with six minutes remaining but the Wolves couldn’t capitalize on the chance and went into the locker room tied at 2-2.
The third was a battle between the two goalies. Barons goalie Yann Danis made several big saves including two breakaways and several odd man rushes by the Wolves. Climie also had some big time saves in the period.
With a 2-2 tie at the end of regulation, the two teams headed into a five minute sudden death overtime. With a four-on-one odd man rush the Wolves had a chance to end the game but with a sloppy turnover they weren’t able to get a good shot off.
With the teams still tied at the end of overtime, the game went to a shootout. Climie stopped five of the six Baron attempts. Niklas Jensen of the Wolves was able to secure the win with a dazzling shootout attempt that he put in the net for an easy highlight-reel goal. The Wolves were able to come away with the 3-2 win and moved themselves into the seventh-place playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“Getting one point is good, but getting the second is important. It was a good game and our speed lines matched up with theirs, and our physical lines also matched up. I was happy with our overall play,” said Wolves coach Scott Arniel.
The Wolves have 13 games remaining until they battle for the Calder Cup and two of those games come against the Barons again, which will be key games for both teams down the stretch.