Despite outshooting Chicago by a 47-30 margin and dominating even-strength play, the San Antonio Rampage fell to the Wolves, in a shootout, by a 3-2 score at Allstate Arena on Sunday.
Seeking to mentally move past Saturday’s contest that saw the Rampage allow a 3-0 lead fall by the wayside as Chicago erupted for six unanswered goals to earn the victory, San Antonio (32-29-4-7) turned to netminder Miika Wiikman on Sunday.
Following three appearances of relief after being dealt by the New York Rangers (NHL) to the Phoenix Coyotes (NHL) for defenseman Anders Eriksson on March 3, Wiikman made his first start in a Rampage jersey and lived up to the challenge.
For the second straight day, San Antonio jumped out to an early lead, receiving a power-play goal by left wing Brett MacLean. After working the puck around the Wolves zone, defenseman Shaun Heshka gained possession at the top of the right faceoff circle and found MacLean on the left post, where the left wing deposited his team-leading 14th power-play goal of the season at the 11:07 mark of the first.
San Antonio outshot Chicago by a 12-8 margin in the opening frame.
The San Antonio 1-0 lead held up until the 15:19 mark of the second, during a Rampage power play, when Chicago right wing Tim Stapleton beat a Rampage defenseman to a race to a puck along the left wall and beat Wiikman high to the glove side to tie the contest at one goal apiece.
Despite inundating Chicago goalie Drew MacIntyre with 19 shots on goal in the second, San Antonio was unable to solve the Wovles netminder and thus the two clubs headed to the final frame knotted at 1-1.
Early in the third, San Antonio reclaimed the lead at the 4:28 mark, on MacLean’s 29th goal of the season and second goal of the afternoon, with assists credited to center Kyle Turris and forward Alexandre Picard.
However, the Rampage were unable to hold the third period lead as Chicago then notched their second shorthanded goal in as many days, at 10:19 of the third, when Stapleton beat Wiikman for his second goal of the game.
For the third consecutive period, San Antonio outshot Chicago, but MacIntyre stood tall to earn a point for the Wolves that would clinch a Calder Cup playoff spot for Chicago.
Neither team scored in the final nine minutes of regulation, thus sending the game to overtime.
In a five minute overtime period that featured non-stop back-and-forth action and multiple chances for both clubs, both netminders were up to the challenge and forced a shootout.
In the shootout, Stapleton and left wing Andrew Kozek beat Wiikman, while Rampage right wingers Mikkel Boedker and David Spina, center Kyle Turris, and defenseman David Schlemko were unable to solve MacIntyre.
MacIntyre made 45 saves on 47 San Antonio shots for his sixth victory of the season against San Antonio, while Wiikman turned away 27 of 29 Chicago shots in the shootout loss.
San Antonio was 1-for-4 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill in the game.
The Rampage will return to action next Saturday when they host the Lake Erie Monsters for a 7 p.m. matchup on Face-Off Against Kids Cancer night at the AT&T Center.