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The San Antonio Rampage remain just three points out of a playoff spot despite dropping a 4-2 decision to the Rockford IceHogs at the AT&T Center Tuesday evening.
Rampage forwards Matt Watkins and Dane Byers each tallied a goal and an assist on the night. Watkins extends his point streak to four games (2g, 2a).
After a scoreless first period, Rockford left wing Rob Klinkhammer was awarded a penalty shot after Rampage defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson was called for hooking on a Rockford breakaway but was denied the one-on-one attempt as Rampage goaltender Matt Climie made the glove save.
San Antonio was the first to jump on the scoreboard with Matt Watkins’ 14th goal of the season 8:14 into the second period. Watkins received the puck at the blue line and skated to the crease where his first shot was deflected by a kick save from IceHogs netminder Alec Richards, however, he picked up his own rebound and tapped it into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead. Dane Byers and Garrett Stafford provided the assists.
The IceHogs evened the score at 1-1 as center Jeff Taffe skated around the defense and snapped a shot from below the left faceoff circle that went top shelf over Climie’s left shoulder at the 12:58 mark of the second period.
The Rampage claimed a 2-1 advantage as Byers scored with 1:38 remaining in the middle stanza. Matt Watkins sent a drop pass to Ekman-Larsson at the right point where he fired a bullet through traffic that was tipped in front by Byers sending the puck to the upper right corner of the net.
Rockford netted the equalizer at the 5:55 mark of the third period as Brandon Pirri won the faceoff in the Rampage zone and passed to left wing Kyle Beach below the right faceoff dot where he shot the puck past Climie’s right shoulder and into the back of the net for a 2-2 score.
The IceHogs took a 3-2 lead when Mathis Olimb’s centering feed found right wing Ben Smith, who fired a shot that went high stick side of Climie 13:36 into the third period.
Rampage head coach Ray Edwards pulled Climie to add the sixth attacker with 51 seconds remaining in regulation. However, Beach was able to steal the puck away from Rampage defenseman Jeff May, who fell to the ice in the neutral zone, and fired a shot into the empty net to seal the IceHogs victory at 4-2.
Climie stopped 25 of 28 shots and Richards made 27 saves on 29 Rampage shots.
The Rampage (39-31-4-3) return to the ice on Friday night when they host the Oklahoma City Barons at 7 p.m. at the AT&T Center.