For the first time in seven games, the Kansas City Mavericks failed to score more than once, and dropped the final game of a nine-game homestand 2-1 Wednesday night to the Tulsa Oilers at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
The fourth-place Mavericks (24-19-2-1, 51 points), with multiple games-in-hand on the rest of the Mountain Division, squandered a chance to make up some ground on second-place Tulsa (28-17-4-2, 62 points). Instead of seven points behind and five games-in-hand on the Oilers, the Mavericks dropped to 11 points behind. Kansas City finished the homestand with a 5-3-1 record.
“We have our games-in-hand obviously,” said Mavericks head coach John-Scott Dickson, “but when you’re playing the team you’re trying to chase, those are always important points. All the penalties we took in the second killed some momentum for us. We only had five shots in the second period.”
Despite entering the game second-to-last in penalty kills, the Mavs proved effective on the kill, at times even creating better offensive chances than when they had a power play.
Three times Kansas City nearly scored shorthanded.
“Our penalty kill percentage-wise, we’re not very good right now, but over the last six games, seven games, we’ve been playing pretty good hockey. The penalty kill has been much better,” Dickson said.
Mike Panowyk had just entered the zone clear of any defenders when the buzzer sounded to end the first period. In the second period, Jared VanWormer picked an Oiler’s pocket in the neutral zone and got a shot off after a give-and-go with Rocco Carzo, but the shot went wide left.
C.J. Eick got a back-hand shot off with 6:22 to go from the right side on a penalty kill that Williams saved.
Along with the buzzer killing a fast break at the end of the first, the Mavericks lost another breakaway opportunity at the end of the second period. Jordan Klimek bolted out of the penalty box with the puck just in front of him, but Klimek slipped, and that led to Tulsa’s Adam Pleskach’s game-winning goal for a 2-1 lead at the 19:01 mark that would stick through the third period.
“Even the first goal they scored could have been offside,” Dickson said. “Penalty, whatever it was. Those are one or two plays, three plays that happened throughout the game. You’ve got to keep pushing through.”
The Oilers outshot the Mavericks 32-24 and six of the Mavericks’ shots came in the final two minutes with six skaters.
Kansas City goaltender Mason McDonald couldn’t tally a third shutout in February as the Oilers got on the board in the first period. Ryan Tesink sank a shot from the middle of the ice. It went low past McDonald’s right skate with 3:52 left in the first.
McDonald came up with a triple-save around the 14:40 mark in second with his left pad, blocking shots from Jared Thomas, Alex Globke and Pleskach.
“[McDonald] just seems to be locked in, focused, wants to be the guy in the net,” Dickson said. “When you have the approach, usually good things happen for you. Again, he made some pretty good saves to keep us in the game tonight.”
Darian Dziurzynski added his 20th goal of the season to tie the game at 1-1 with 7:42 left in the second period. Crisp passing from Greg Betzold and Riley Sweeney led to Dziurzynski’s wrist shot past Tulsa goaltender Devin Williams.
But penalties and turnovers in the defensive and neutral zones hindered the Mavericks. Six times a Maverick went to the penalty box, half of them coming in the second period.
Up next, the Mavericks travel to first-place Utah for three games in four days over the weekend, with the first game being played at 8:05 p.m. Friday at the Maverik Center in