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SAN ANTONIO–-The Chicago Wolves surrendered the final three goals, including the game-winner 14:16 into overtime as they dropped Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals to the San Antonio Rampage Thursday night at the AT&T Center.
Forwards Nicklas Jensen (2G), Bill Sweatt, and Tim Miller scored for Chicago, which trails San Antonio 1-0 in the best-of-five series.
“We had many chances to win the game, but we couldn’t do it,” said Wolves head coach Craig MacTavish. “At the end of the day it is a stinger of a loss.”
San Antonio (1-0) grabbed the overtime winner while on the power play. After a scramble around the net the puck came in the near circle to defenseman Coby Robak, who fired home a shot through traffic and past the outstretched glove of Wolves netminder Eddie Lack.
Chicago (0-1) opened scoring at 12:49 of the first period when center Jordan Schroeder controlled the puck in his own zone, skated up the ice and fired a rising shot that bounced off the shoulder of Sweatt and past San Antonio goaltender Jacob Markstrom.
San Antonio knotted the score less than two minutes later when right wing Bill Thomas held the puck behind the Wolves net and found center James Wright streaking off the bench and all alone in the high slot. He hammered a one-timer past Lack at 14:37.
The Wolves regained the lead 43 seconds later when Miller fed right wing Darren Haydar at the Rampage blue line and streaked into the slot, where Haydar returned the puck and Miller slipped a shot between the pads of Markstrom.
Chicago opened up a 3-1 lead with 1:05 left in the opening frame while on the power play. Haydar held the puck below the far goal line and found Jensen in the near circle. The 19-year-old rookie snapped a shot between Markstrom’s pads.
Markstrom (1-0) posted 33 saves in regulation and overtime.
The Rampage cut the Wolves lead to 3-2 when center Jon Matsumoto won a puck battle behind the net and fed a pass to defenseman Drew Shore in front of the net. He slammed a one-timer through Lack’s legs 5:12 into the second period.
Jensen regained the Wolves two-goal advantage at 8:01 of the middle frame with his second power-play marker of the game. Right wing Mark Mancari’s shot hit the backboards, center Kevin Doell retrieved the rebound and found Jensen at the doorstep for a shot flipped just under the crossbar.
Matsumoto answered for San Antonio 2:23 later with a power-play tally of his own. Robak’s shot from the near-circle was stopped by Lack, but the puck trickled through his pads and Matsumoto pounced on the rebound in the crease and tapped it into the empty net.
The Rampage made it 4-4 at 5:23 into the third period when Matsumoto led the charge on a two-on-one break and his shot deflected off a Wolves defenseman’s stick before bouncing past Lack and over the goal line.
Lack (0-1) recorded 32 saves in regulation and overtime.
The Wolves will look to even the series when Chicago and San Antonio play Game 2 at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the AT&T Center.
– Chicago Wolves