Trevor Smith was the lone scorer in the shootout as the Milwaukee Admirals edged the Chicago Wolves 4-3 on Tuesday night at Allstate Arena.
Although the Wolves lost, the magic number to clinch their 19th postseason berth in 24 years shrank to 2. If the Cleveland Monsters defeat the Admirals in regulation Wednesday, the Wolves (38-21-7-4) will punch their postseason ticket.
Goaltender Oscar Dansk (10-1-4) made 30 saves while forwards Teemu Pulkkinen, Paul Thompson and Brett Sterling tallied for Chicago as the game remained tied for the final 48 minutes of regulation and overtime.
“It’s that time of the year,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson. “These games are so important for both teams. I think that’s why you saw it come right down to the wire.”
The Admirals (36-29-4-1) wasted no time and netted the game’s first goal just 1:50 into the contest. Anthony Richard beat a Wolves defender, zipped across the crease and deposited the puck behind an outstretched Dansk for the 1-0 lead.
At 8:48, Beau Bennett sprang Pulkkinen up the left wing. He whizzed into the Milwaukee zone and got behind the defense for a breakaway chance that he tucked past Anders Lindback (31-19-4) for the equalizing tally.
Just under two minutes later, the Admirals jumped back into the lead when Frederic Allard fed the puck to Frederick Gaudreau and he powered through the neutral zone and into the Wolves’ end. He got to the top of the slot and handed the puck to Harry Zolnierczyk skating parallel to the net. He wired a shot past Dansk for the 2-1 go-ahead goal.
The Wolves again tied the game — this time 2-2 — just 59 seconds after the Admirals scored. Bennett corralled his own shot attempt behind the Milwaukee net and fed it to Sterling waiting near the crease for the tap-in equalizer.
Chicago gained its first lead of the game at 12:41 — just 57 seconds after tying the game. Captain Thompson rang his first shot off the crossbar and then planted himself in front of the net. Philip Holm gathered the puck at the left-side wall and put it back on net. Thompson was there to redirect it past Lindback for the 3-2 go-ahead goal.
With less than three minutes to play in the first period, Milwaukee netted their third goal to tie the game again. Richard set up Bobby Butler at 17:03 of the frame.
In the shootout, Smith scored as Milwaukee’s second shooter and Lindback made 29 saves while stopping all three Wolves players in the shootout to earn the win.