On Thursday, San Antonio fell to the red hot Chicago Wolves by a 5-3 score at the AT&T Center.
San Antonio entered the contest with a 6-3-0-1 record in their last 10 games, but faced a Chicago club that had won eight of their last 10 and had outscored their opponents 41-24 during that span.
On Wednesday, the Wolves erupted for three goals in 67 seconds during the opening period of their 7-2 victory over Milwaukee and thus the Rampage hoped to strike first on Thursday.
Applying immediate pressure, San Antonio found the scoreboard only 24 seconds after the opening faceoff on left wing Brett MacLean’s team-leading 17th goal of the season. After a high wrist shot by defenseman Sean Sullivan was deflected into the left corner by Wolves netminder Drew MacIntyre, MacLean stole the puck from the skates of a Chicago blueliner and beat MacIntyre high to the short side to provide San Antonio with an early 1-0 lead.
Ten minutes later Chicago left wing Brett Sterling netted the equalizer, on the power play, while Rampage right wing Francis Lessard served a penalty for hooking. Working on the man-advantage, center Jason Krog sent a pass from the left half wall to right wing Tim Stapleton at the top of the right faceoff circle, where the Wolves right wing fired a slap shot that deflected off Rampage goalie Josh Tordjman’s leg pads and into the slot to Sterling, who quickly buried the rebound to tie the game at one goal apiece.
Wasting little time before notching his second goal of the game, Sterling scored again, two minutes and 34 seconds later. After receiving a pass behind the net from Krog, Sterling then skated around the left post and beat Tordjman through the five-hole with a wrap-around shot to give Chicago a 2-1 lead.
The Wolves added to their lead with 1:31 remaining in the opening period when Chicago right wing Anthony Stewart worked a give-and-go behind the Rampage net with forward Matt Anderson before connecting with Chicago right wing Joey Crabb on a one-timer from the slot to increase the Wolves lead to 3-1 heading into the first intermission.
Between periods, San Antonio head coach Ray Edwards elected to replace Tordjman with fellow Rampage goaltender Justin Pogge.
Early in the second, San Antonio climbed to within a goal as defenseman Sean Sullivan beat MacIntyre on a low slap shot that deflected off the stick of a Chicago defenseman and into the left corner of the Chicago net at the 1:48 mark of the period.
The Rampage then tied the game, a minute and six seconds later when MacLean intercepted a Chicago clearing pass near the right point of the Chicago zone and beat an off-guard MacIntyre to knot the game at three goals apiece. San Antonio’s game-tying goal was also their 33rd power-play goal of the season.
The tie game held up until Chicago defenseman Nathan Oystrick beat Pogge low to the glove side on a feed from Stapleton with 2:03 remaining in the game to put the Wolves up by a goal.
Hoping to tie the game in the final two minutes, San Antonio head coach Ray Edwards pulled Pogge in order to add an extra offensive threat, only to see right wing Spencer Machacek find the open net on a pass from center Kevin Doell with 56 seconds remaining in regulation.
Pogge and Tordjman combined to stop 27 of 32 Chicago shots for the loss, while MacIntyre made 41 saves on 44 Rampage shots for his 11th victory of the season.
San Antonio will seek retribution when the two clubs reconvene tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at the AT&T Center.