Seeking to snap a four-game winless streak, the San Antonio Rampage rallied from behind with two power-play goals in the third period to beat the visiting Lake Erie Monsters, 4-3, on Sunday to the delight of 5,411 fans and dogs on Pucks and Paws Day at the AT&T Center.
San Antonio (33-30-4-7), which entered Sunday ranked tied for third in overall power-play percentage (20.7) and first in home power-play percentage (25.2) among all American Hockey League clubs, faced-off against a Lake Erie team that entered Sunday ranked last among all AHL clubs in penalty kill percentage (79.2). Sure enough, San Antonio’s potent power play served as the catalyst the Rampage needed to emerge victorious.
For the second consecutive day, the Rampage struck early in the first, receiving a goal from center Gavin Morgan two minutes and 38 seconds into the period. After carrying the puck into the left side of the Lake Erie zone, San Antonio rookie forward Josh Lunden fired a shot from the left faceoff dot that rebounded to right wing Matt Watkins at the bottom of the left faceoff circle. Watkins then sent a behind-the-back pass to Morgan in the slot, where the centerman beat Monsters netminder John Grahame low to the glove side.
Eight minutes and seven seconds later, San Antonio added to their lead on left wing Brett MacLean’s team-leading 30th goal of the season. Gaining possession of the puck behind the Monsters net, MacLean wrapped a pass around the right post to left wing Alexandre Picard on the left post. With Grahame sliding over to play the puck, Picard returned the disc through traffic in the slot to MacLean, where the winger deposited the puck into the upper right corner of the net.
However, San Antonio’s two-goal lead did not last for long as Lake Erie scored twice in a minute and 41 second span prior to the end of the opening frame.
Working in the triangle formation in the Rampage zone during a five-on-three man-advantage, Monsters left wing Darren Haydar sent a pass to left wing Ryan Stoa at the bottom of the right faceoff circle. Wasting little time, Stoa then found Lake Erie right wing Brian Willsie in the slot, where Willsie beat Rampage goaltender Josh Tordjman high inside the left post at 17:29 to close the deficit to 2-1.
The Monsters then knotted the contest at two goals apiece on Stoa’s 22nd goal of the season. After racing through the left side of the neutral zone and into San Antonio territory, Lake Erie center T.J. Hensick dropped a pass from the top of the left faceoff circle to Willsie in the high slot. Willsie then one-touched a pass to Stoa on the right side of the slot, where the left wing beat Tordjman low to the glove side to tie the game at 2-2 with 50 seconds remaining in the first.
Five minutes into the second stanza, Lake Erie took a 3-2 lead on Stoa’s second goal of the game. Regrouping on the center of the Monsters blueline, Lake Erie defenseman Kevin Montgomery banked a pass off the left boards to center Philippe Dupuis near the San Antonio blueline. After entering the San Antonio zone, Dupuis dropped for Stoa near the left half wall before the left wing cut inside the left faceoff dot and beat Tordjman through the five-hole.
San Antonio knotted the equalizer, on the power play, at 6:59 of the third when forward Alexandre Picard netted his 26th goal of the season. Receiving pressure on the right half wall, Turris left a puck for defenseman Sean Sullivan. Sullivan then found MacLean in the right corner, where the left wing connected with Picard on the left post to tie the game at 3-3.
With three minutes and 12 seconds remaining in regulation, Hensick was whistled for a hooking penalty and provided San Antonio’s power play with an opportunity to move ahead.
A minute and 42 seconds later, San Antonio took a 4-3 lead when right wing David Spina beat Grahame high inside the left post for his second power-play goal of the season.
In the game’s final minute and a half, the Rampage weathered a bolstered Lake Erie attack after Monsters head coach David Quinn pulled Grahame in favor of an extra skater.
Tordjman made 23 saves on 26 Lake Erie shots in the win, while Grahame turned away 35 of 39 San Antonio shots for the loss.
The Rampage were 2-for-5 on the power play and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill on the afternoon.
San Antonio will return to action on Friday, when they travel to suburban Austin for a 7:30 p.m. matchup against the Texas Stars at Cedar Park Center.