Abbotsford, B.C. — For the first time in almost exactly a year the Chicago Wolves scored three power-play goals, but it wasn’t enough as the team fell 4-3 in overtime in front of a capacity crowd of 7,044 Friday night at Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.
In their final meeting of the regular season, the Wolves and the Abbotsford Heat picked up right where the they left off the previous night, battling into overtime where Abbotsford defenseman Brian Connelly scored with 12 seconds remaining in the extra frame to snap Chicago’s four-game road winning streak.
Despite the loss, the Wolves still picked up a point and maintain a five-point advantage over Charlotte for first-place in the AHL’s Midwest Division.
All-Star captain Darren Haydar was a force on the Wolves power play, posting a goal and two assists on the man advantage for Chicago (39-25-3-3). Defenseman Kevin Connauton and right wing Mark Mancari also posted a goal and assist apiece and right wing Byron Bitz collected a helper in the defeat.
The Wolves finished 3-for-4 on the power play. It was the first time since a 5-3 win over Houston on March 31, 2011, that the team posted three power-play strikes.
The Wolves were outshot for the first time in eight contests as goaltender Matt Climie (19-9-1) had his three-game win streak snapped despite stopping 40 shots and earning his fifth assist of the season on the Wolves opening score. Leland Irving (21-13-2) made 28 saves in the victory.
For the first time in four games the Wolves got on the scoreboard first. Haydar gave Chicago a power-play tally for the third straight game, posting his 18th goal of the season 13:04 into the first period. The Wolves active leader in points took a pass from Connauton and entered the Heat zone, where he moved across the slot and fired a shot past Irving on the short side.
Abbotsford tied the game just after a Wolves penalty kill late in the opening frame. Heat right wing Greg Nemisz beat Climie with a shot over the left shoulder after receiving a pass from defenseman Nick Tuzzolino in the slot.
Heat center Kry Kolanos gave Abbotsford the lead 5:05 into the second period as he banged home a rebound behind Climie. Heat captain Quintin Laing caught the Wolves in a line change and let go a shot that Climie stopped, but the puck trickled behind the Wolves netminder where Kolanos was waiting.
Abbotsford took its first two-goal lead of the two-game weekend series midway through the second period. Heat center Ben Walter skated behind the goal, taking two Chicago defenders with him and found defenseman Clay Wilson open in front of the net. Wilson slipped the puck passed a scrambling Climie.
Connauton got the Wolves back within one with 3:35 left in the second period. Haydar fed Connauton, who one-timed a blast from the right point for Chicago’s second power-play tally of the game and his seventh goal on the man-advantage this season.
Less than a minute later, Mancari took advantage of another Heat penalty. He scored on another one-time shot off the dish from Haydar, this time from the left side for his team-leading 28th goal this season.
After a scoreless third period, the game appeared to be headed to a shootout. But with just seconds remaining in overtime, the Heat entered the Wolves zone on a three-on-one and center Ben Walter found a streaking Connelly, who rifled a shot from the left circle over Climie’s left shoulder for the game-winner.
The Wolves head to their second of six cities during their season-high seven-game road trip when they face San Antonio at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Chicago’s next appearance at Allstate Arena is Saturday, April 14, against Milwaukee for the final Amtrak Rivalry contest of the season. For tickets, visit ChicagoWolves.com or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.
Chicago 1 2 0 0 — 3
Abbotsford 1 2 0 1 — 4
First Period—1, Chicago, Haydar 18 (Connauton, Climie), 13:04 pp; 2, Abbotsford, Nemisz 13 (Tuzzolino), 16:37. Penalties—Connelly, Abbotsford (delay of game), 12:13; Clackson, Chicago (roughing, fighting), 14:31; Desbiens, Abbotsford (fighting), 14:31.
Second Period—3, Abbotsford, Kolanos 24 (Laing, Sylvester), 5:05; 4, Abbotsford, Wilson 15 (Walter, Rheault), 8:26; 5, Chicago, Connauton 13 (Haydar, Mancari), 16:25 pp; 6, Chicago, Mancari 28 (Haydar, Bitz), 17:33 pp. Penalties—Haydar, Chicago (slashing), 6:18; Wilson, Abbotsford (slashing), 9:31; Nemisz, Abbotsford (tripping), 16:03; Roussel, Chicago (roughing), 17:07; Kolanos, Abbotsford (slashing), 17:07; Wilson, Abbotsford (roughing), 17:07.
Third Period—None. Penalties—Henry, Chicago (interference), 14:44.
OT Period— 7, Abbotsford, Connelly 6 (Walter), 4:48. Penalties—None.
Shots on goal—Chicago: 13-9-6-2—31; Abbotsford: 14-13-14-4—44. Power plays—Chicago 3-4; Abbotsford 0-3. Goalies—Chicago, Climie (40-44); Abbotsford, Irving (28-31). A—7,044. Referee—Marcus Vinnerborg. Linesmen—Kiel Murchison and Chris Carlson.
(Post courtesy of Chicago Wolves.)