Condors dominate Wranglers but need shootout to prevail 3-2 in Calgary

The Condors make hard work of it versus the Wranglers on Wednesday night, but eventually come through with a well-deserved important two points.
Bakersfield forward Seth Griffith (39) passes the puck down the ice as Coachella Valley forward Kole
Bakersfield forward Seth Griffith (39) passes the puck down the ice as Coachella Valley forward Kole / Andy Abeyta/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY

The Condors only had themselves to blame for Tuesday night's 2-1 road loss to the Wranglers. They failed to take advantage of an excellent performance by Jack Campbell, while also going scoreless on seven power play opportunities.

The Condors followed this up in Wednesday's rematch in Calgary, with a season-high 47 shots and one of their best efforts of the 2023-24 AHL campaign. And yet, their inability to put the puck away still almost proved costly.

Ultimately though, Colin Chaulk's players did what it took to secure a vital two points, albeit needing a stressful shootout to win 3-2. Matvey Petrov scored the game-clinching goal in the fourth round of the shootout, in a game where the Condors never trailed.

Condors come out firing

The Condors controlled the tempo effectively from the word go, as they outshot the hosts 14-9 in the first period. Although bizarelly on a night where they struggled to make their opportunities count, they actually took the lead when they were down a man on the ice.

It was all Max Wanner, as he picked up the puck deep inside his own half and streaked down the right wing, beating his man and firing home for the short-handed goal. It was Wanner's fifth of the AHL season and the visitors had a 1-0 lead at the 14:10 mark of the opening 20 minutes.

The Condors continued to outshoot the Wranglers in the second period, with a 13-8 advantage. However it was the hosts who would score next, to tie the game 1-1 at the 12:26 point of the second.

In fairness it was a sensational setup by Cole Schwindt, who picked up the puck just inside his own half and proceeded to get past three players. He then set up Sam Morton with a chance that just couldn't be missed, as he scored his first goal of the AHL season.

Holloway with the standout goal

The third period proved to be the most dominating of the night for the Condors, as they outshot the Wranglers 17-9. And the pressure would pay off just over five minutes into the period, through Dylan Holloway.

It was a beauty by Holloway, as he secured his ninth point in 10 games this season for the Condors. He stripped the puck just inside his own half, flew down the left wing and finished the move off himself to make it 2-1.

However, in keeping with how difficult the Condors made things for themselves on the night, the lead would only last 35 seconds. Olivier Rodrigue arguably should have done better as Adam Klapka scored the unassisted goal, and it was 2-2 at the 5:57 point of the third period.

Rodrigue more than plays his part

Despite Rodrigue's failings on the second Wranglers' goal, it need to be stressed that overall he performed well on the night as he saved 27 of the 29 shots he faced. It was also important that he played well, having lost three of his previous four starts.

The Condors thought they had retaken the lead with five minutes left in the third period. However, replays showed the puck never crossed the line and the game subsequently went to overtime.

Neither team was able to finish the game off in the extra period, leading to the shootout that resulted in the Condors finally winning. Of note, Lane Pederson scored and is now four-for-four on shootout opportunities this season.

It speaks volumes that Sam Gagner took home the game's First Star, despite not featuring on the score sheet. Holloway was awarded the Second Star, thanks to his excellent goal.

The Condors are now 22-6-2 in games where they have scored the first goal this season. They are also 3-3-0 on their travels so far this month, with four road games remaining in March.

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With the win the Condors improve to 33-22-4 on the season and while they remain fifth in the Pacific Division, for what it's worth they are within six points of second place and with a game in hand. The Condors now return home for a major test on Friday night, as they will host a Coachella Valley Firebirds team which is the cream of the Western Conference.

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