CEDAR PARK, Texas — Before the final horn sounded in the Chicago Wolves 5-2 loss to the Texas Stars at Cedar Park Center on Tuesday night, the Wolves earned a spot in the 2012 Calder Cup playoffs.
Forwards Anton Rodin and Nicklas Jensen scored for the Wolves (40-27-3-3), who were unable to recover after falling behind 4-0 but clinched the club’s 15th playoff berth in their 18-year history by virtue of Rochester’s 5-4 overtime loss to Grand Rapids on Tuesday. The team’s magic number to win the Midwest Division is 2.
Individual playoff tickets go on sale at 11 a.m. on Wednesday. The AHL postseason schedule will be released after Sunday afternoon’s regular-season finale against Peoria at Allstate Arena.
Forwards Antoine Roussel and Kevin Doell and defensemen Ryan Parent and Mark Matheson each collected one assist in Chicago’s sixth game of a season-high seven-game road trip. Doell made his first appearance since Nov. 18 while Parent played for the first time since Jan. 14.
Goaltender Jack Campbell (4-4-0) stopped 34 of the 36 Wolves shots en route to the victory. Matt Climie (20-11-0) made eight saves to take the loss, while Eddie Lack made 11 saves in relief.
For the fourth time on the road trip, Chicago’s opponent netted the game’s first goal. Former Wolves center Angelo Esposito opened the scoring 3:42 into the first period, deflecting a shot from the left point behind Climie.
The Stars added to their lead with a fortunate bounce on a delayed penalty midway through the opening frame. With an extra attacker on the ice Texas right wing Alex Chiasson fired a shot that was kicked out by Climie’s right pad, but put right back into the net off the leg of Wolves defenseman Kevin Connauton, who was attempting to tie up a Stars forward in the crease.
Texas (31-38-2-2) extended their lead to 4-0 in the second period with a power-play strike by Tomas Vincour and a goal by Jace Coyle. Vincour’s tally snapped the Wolves streak of four straight games without a power-play goal allowed.
The Wolves finally got on the scoreboard courtesy of Rodin with 3:16 remaining in the second period. The Stockholm, Sweden, native pulled up in the slot and ripped a shot over the left shoulder of Campbell for his eighth goal of the season.
Jensen pulled Chicago within two 12:34 into the third period with his first career goal, sneaking a shot past Campbell on the short side. Doell earned an assist on the play, collecting his first point in his first game back after being out since Nov. 16.
Texas right wing Mike Hedden capped the scoring with an empty-net goal with two seconds remaining in the game.
Chicago remains in first place in the Midwest Division with 86 points, four points ahead of Milwaukee. The Wolves will have an opportunity to clinch the team’s sixth division title and the Norman R. (Bud) Poile Trophy given to the division’s winner with a win in any of their final three contests.
The Wolves wrap up their road trip at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Grand Rapids. Chicago returns to Allstate Arena at 7 p.m. Saturday against Milwaukee for the final Amtrak Rivalry contest of the season. For tickets, visit ChicagoWolves.com or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.
Chicago 0 1 1 — 2
Texas 2 2 1 — 5
First Period— 1, Texas, Esposito 7 (Dillon, Glennie), 3:42; 2, Texas, Chiasson 1 (Sceviour, Benn), 10:41. Penalties—Benn, Texas (holding), 0:55.
Second Period— 3, Texas, Vincour 12 (Sceviour, Fortunus), 2:48 (pp); 4, Texas, Coyle 1 (Hedden, Gazdic), 14:00; 5, Chicago, Rodin 8 (Roussel, Parent), 16:44. Penalties—Sweatt, Chicago (elbowing), 1:42; Roussel, Chicago (fighting), 2:51; Wathier, Texas (fighting), 2:51; Smith, Texas (hooking), 5:02; Matson, Chicago (hooking), 18:11.
Third Period— 6, Chicago, Jensen 1 (Matson, Doell), 12:34; 7. Texas, Hadden 17 (Chiasson, Spang), 19:58. Penalties—Dillon, Texas (roughing), 1:25; Benn, Texas (delay of game), 3:10; Rodin, Chicago (holding the stick), 5:35; Doell, Chicago (roughing), 15:22; Dillon, Texas (roughing), 15:22; Haydar, Chicago (hooking), 17:40.
Shots on goal—Chicago: 10-5-21—36; Texas: 8-12-4—24. Power plays—Chicago 0-4; Texas 1-4. Goalies—Chicago, Climie (8-11); Lack (11-12); Texas, Campbell (34-36). A—4,969. Referees— Ian Croft and Geoff Miller. Linesmen— Fred Hudy and Carl Sasyn