Once again the Spokane Chiefs left their coach wanting but the other team reeling.
Despite another slow start and a slew of missed opportunities, when Anthony Bardaro scored at 3:10 of overtime the Chiefs escaped with a 3-2 win over Prince Albert before 4,415 fans at the Arena Friday night.
“A win’s a win. It’s two points in the end, no matter how you look at it,” Bardaro said. “Of course we can be better, but we’ll take it.”
Bardaro gathered the puck in the neutral zone and cut to the middle. When the defense came at him he went wide and, hoping to create something, put the puck on net. He ended up with his ninth goal and points in all seven games this season.
“I don’t look at my stats,” he said. “My main focus is to keep playing the way I’ve been playing. … I just want to help the team win.”
Prince Albert (3-6-1-1, eight points), at the end of its five-game U.S. Division swing, deserved a better fate, or at least goalie Eric Williams did after making 39 saves.
It was another inauspicious start at home for the Chiefs (4-2-0-1, nine), who allowed Prince Albert a pair of breakaway goals while scoring twice on shots that were, well, not really shots before escaping with their fourth straight home win to start the season.
The Raiders broke through when defenseman Antoine Corbin flipped the puck over the Chiefs in the neutral zone and Justin Maylan won the race to the puck to break in alone on Mac Engel for a goal at 4:33. Corbin Baldwin put the Chiefs on board, inadvertently. From the right point he threw the puck hard to the left corner but it ricocheted off Corbin’s skate for Baldwin’s first goal. Then at 17:14 it was Harrison Ruopp catching Mike Winther in stride during a 4-on-4 for a 2-1 Raiders lead after one.
“We practice breakaways all the time in practice, so we’re ready for the situations,” Engel said. “It’s a bit different than practice. They made a couple of good moves to beat me. The guys definitely battled back for me.
“You just have to regroup, just focus on stopping the next one. Getting mad is only going to make it worse. There is nothing you can do about it … just get past it and keep on battling the rest of the night.”
The Chiefs went 0 for 4 on the power play – as did the Raiders – and didn’t get the equalizer until midway through the third period. Collin Valcourt won a race to the puck in the right corner and threw it along the end line at the net. It went off Williams and in.
“There’s no column on the website that says ‘Good Goals’ and ‘Bad Goals’,” Bardaro said. “We’re going to take them however they’re going to come. We’re going to come every night as hard as we can, put as many pucks on the net as we can. You’re bound to get a couple lucky bounces when you shoot 50 times.”
Although Engel only made 20 saves, he had enough big ones to give his team a chance to come back, including a stop that broke the cage of his mask.
“One day of practice sure didn’t correct that,” Spokane coach Don Nachbaur said. “We started the game off flat. … To me, that’s seven games in a row we haven’t had that jump to our game. We don’t have Tyler Johnson jumping out on the ice 100 miles an hour. Other guys have to step up and do that. It’s not like we’re starting any young guys.
“With that said, we had enough shots to bury some pucks but we’re snakebit in that area. The neat thing is we found a way to win. If you keep throwing pebbles at the stone wall it’s going to crumble at some time. But we made way too many mental errors … We have lots to clean up.”
The Chiefs are right back at it tonight with Everett coming in.
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