Returning home to the Alamo City following a three-game road trip, the San Antonio Rampage fell to the Chicago Wolves by a 4-2 score at the AT&T Center on Friday.
Despite outplaying and outshooting the Wolves for much of the game, San Antonio was unable to overcome Chicago where it matters most: the scoreboard.
Playing in front of a loud and energetic crowd of 5,320, the Rampage controlled play for the majority of the first, firing 10 shots on Wolves netminder Drew MacIntyre, while limiting Chicago to a mere three shots on goal in the opening period. However, MacIntyre stood tall and sent his team to the first intermission in a scoreless tie.
The Wolves opened the second with an offensive flurry that resulted in a Chicago goal at the 1:16 mark by defenseman Steve McCarthy. Maintaining control of the puck in the Rampage zone for the entirety of the opening minute of the middle frame, the Wolves worked the puck around the San Antonio zone until Chicago right wing Spencer Machacek found center Jason Krog near the right faceoff circle. Krog then sent the puck to McCarthy on the left point, where the Wolves blueliner fired a slap shot over the outstretched glove of San Antonio netminder Al Montoya to give Chicago a 1-0 lead.
For the remainder of the second session, the Rampage dictated play and inundated McIntyre with a barrage of scoring chances that led to four San Antonio power play opportunities and saw the Rampage hit the post on three separate occasions.
San Antonio’s offensive pressure eventually paid dividends midway through the period as Rampage right wing Mikkel Boedker found the back of the net at the 11:06 mark to tie the game at one goal apiece. After San Antonio defenseman Nick Ross left a puck on the left boards near the Chicago blueline for Rampage center Kevin Porter, Porter then made a slippery move through the stick of a Wolves defenseman before driving to the top of the left faceoff circle and sending a crossing pass to Boedker, who then one-timed the puck low to McIntyre’s glove side to even the score at 1-1.
However, the Wolves regained the lead with less than three minutes remaining in the second on a shorthanded goal by center Johnny Pohl. With Chicago center Kevin Doell serving an interference penalty, the Chicago penalty kill induced a Rampage turnover near the Wolves blueline, leaving Pohl with a breakaway near center ice. Pohl went in alone on Montoya before beating the Rampage netminder through the five-hole to provide the Wolves with a 2-1 lead heading into the second intermission.
The Rampage returned in the third period determined to tie the game and eventually did so on a goal by San Antonio Joel Perrault. Maintaining control of the puck in the right corner of the Chicago zone with a Wolves defenseman draped all over him, Rampage captain Jeff Hoggan sent a spin-around pass to Perrault in the slot, who quickly beat McIntyre low to the blocker side at the 5:02 mark to tie the game a 2-2.
For nearly nine minutes, play moved from end to end before Chicago earned its third lead of the night on an unlucky bounce. Driving into the San Antonio zone, Machacek fired a shot from the right hash mark that deflected off Montoya’s stick to Pohl near the left faceoff circle. Pohl then sent a shot wide left of the net that took an unsuspecting bounce off the boards behind the net out to the right post where Chicago left wing Brett Sterling was waiting to tap it in to give the Wolves a 3-2 lead at the 14:17 mark of the third.
Chicago provided San Antonio with a chance to tie late in the third as McCarthy was whistled for a delay of game penalty after using his glove to knock a puck over the glass. With less than a minute remaining in the game and the puck in San Antonio’s possession, Rampage Head Coach Greg Ireland pulled Montoya in order to add another skater to the San Antonio attack. Despite coming close to converting on a few shots, the Rampage were unable to solve McIntyre. Wolves center Kevin Doell added an empty-net marker with 21 seconds remaining in regulation to seal the 4-2 victory for Chicago.
The loss extends the current Rampage winless streak to eight games, as San Antonio is 0-6-1-1 since October 23.
MacIntyre made 31 saves on 33 shots for the victory, while Montoya turned away 17 of 20 shots in the loss.
The contest marked the first game in San Antonio for 25-year NHL veteran Chris Chelios, who earned a +2 rating on the evening.
The Rampage return to action on Sunday, when they host the West Division-leading Texas Stars in a 3 p.m. matinee matchup at the AT&T Center.