AUSTIN, Texas---The Chicago Wolves league-leading power play struck three times to lift the team to a 5-3 victory over the Texas Stars in Game 3 of the West Division Finals at Cedar Park Center Tuesday night. Chicago now leads the best-of-seven series, 2-games-to-1.
Wolves right wing Spencer Machacek (2G, A) and defenseman Nathan Oystrick (2PPG) led the charge, while forwards Jason Krog (2A), Tim Stapleton (2A) and Brett Sterling (G) also contributed to Chicago’s offensive outburst.
“We played a real solid road game. We were strong in the neutral zone and when we got the lead, we played like we had the lead,” said Wolves Head Coach Don Lever. “That is the best we have played with a lead in a long time.”
Texas (5-2) took an early lead, 2:41 into the contest. Francis Wathier carried the puck around the back of the net and sent it sliding out into the slot for Perttu Lindgren to bang past Wolves goaltender Peter Mannino.
Machacek answered with a power-play tally for Chicago (6-4) just under three minutes later. Center Riley Holzapfel carried the puck into the Stars zone and threw a shot on net, which Stars netminder Brent Krahn kicked out to Noah Welch along the boards. Welch was able to chip it over for Machacek streaking down the slot for a quick flip past Krahn.
Oystrick put the Wolves in front, 2-1, with a second power-play strike, 8:33 into the first period. Manning the point, the blueliner took a pass from Stapleton above the left face-off circle, walked in and ripped a shot through Krahn.
Texas responded with a power-play marker of their own to make it 2-2 at the 11:37 mark of the first frame. Center Aaron Gagnon gathered the puck in the left corner, moved in and lifted a shot over Mannino’s left shoulder.
Mannino (6-3) recorded 27 saves on 30 shots for the Wolves.
Sterling put the Wolves in front, 3-2, with his first goal of the playoffs at 5:11 of the second period. Right wing Anthony Stewart pushed the puck forward to Sterling as a scrum of players moved toward the net, and Sterling was able to free himself from the crowd enough to turn and rip a shot into the high corner of the net.
Oystrick bagged his second of the game on the power play at 18:32 of the second frame to give Chicago a 4-2 lead. Parked near the left boards, the defenseman wound up and cranked a zinger from the blue line past Krahn.
Krahn (5-2) posted 18 saves for Texas in his second loss of the postseason, before being replaced by back-up Matt Climie following the second period. Climie posted five saves on six shots in 19:15 of relief duty.
Machacek tallied his second of the game at 7:28 of the third period to make the score 5-2 in Chicago’s favor. The right wing drove down into the Stars zone ahead of the pack and sent a shot sailing by Climie and into the back of the net.
Lindgren tallied his second of the night for the Stars – a high shot that clanked just under the crossbar - with 5:02 remaining in the game to round out scoring, 5-3.
Game 4 will be held at the Cedar Park Center on Wed., May 5, at 7:30 p.m.
Chicago 2 2 1 -- 5
Texas 2 0 1 -- 3
First Period---1, Texas, Lindgren 2 (Wathier, Sawada), 2:41; 2, Chicago, Machacek 4 (Welch, Holzapfel), 5:46 pp; 3, Chicago, Oystrick 1 (Stapleton, Krog), 8:33 pp; 4, Texas, Gagnon 2 (Rallo, Wathier), 11:37 pp. Penalties---Hutchinson, Texas (delay of game), 3:57; McCulloch, Texas (delay of game), 7:37; Stephenson, Texas (cross-checking), 8:16; Holzapfel, Chicago (tripping), 11:18; McCulloch, Texas (slashing), 16:00.
Second Period---5, Chicago, Sterling 1 (Stewart, Krog), 5:11; 6, Chicago, Oystrick 2 (Stapleton, Machacek), 18:32 pp. Penalties---Kaip, Chicago (hooking), 8:43; Morin, Texas (high-sticking), 13:50; Wathier, Texas (double-minor high-sticking), 15:38.
Third Period---7, Chicago, Machacek 5 (unassisted) 7:28; 8, Texas, Lindgren 3 (Hutchinson, Jancevski), 14:58. Penalties---Stewart, Chicago (cross-checking) 9:35; Welch, Chicago (elbowing), 11:30; Peters, Texas (slashing), 11:30; Chelios, Chicago (high-sticking) 17:24.
Shots on goal---Chicago: 9-13-6--28. Texas: 11-2-17--30. Power plays---Chicago: 3-6. Texas: 1-4. Goalies--Chicago, Mannino (27-30). Texas, Krahn (18-22), replaced by Climie (5-6) at 40:00. A---3,046. Referee---Terry Koharski. Linesmen---Fred Hudy and Aaron Mills.