The Spokane Chiefs might not count their lines, but they can certainly count their rallies.
For a third straight game the Chiefs trailed entering the third period but pulled out a victory.
The victim this time was Saskatoon, which fell 5-3 before 4,918 fans at the Arena on Friday night, making the Chiefs 6-0 at home and the Blades 1-4-0-1 in a five-game U.S. Division swing.
What would likely be considered the fourth line rallied the Chiefs, with center Mike Aviani setting up Marek Kalus twice to tie the game.
“I don’t really put numbers on it,” said Aviani, who started the game centering the third line and ended up on the fourth in a center swap. “Coach says before the game we have four first lines, so we’re all going to play like first liners. We’re all going to play as hard as we can. It was fun.”
It was really the fourth straight come-from-behind win, but in the first the Chiefs made up a two-goal deficit in the second period before scoring the only goal of the third. Three of the four rallies were against Eastern Division visitors.
And it was the second straight game they had a three-goal third period to win, doing the same thing to Everett, tonight’s visitor in the sixth game of a seven-game home stand, last Saturday.
“We knew this game was going to be a challenge,” Saskatoon coach Lorne Molleken said. “Spokane’s a real good hockey club that plays a very aggressive style. We were fortunate to be in this game. Our goaltender was outstanding. We gave them a number of breakaways that shouldn’t happen.”
The Chiefs (6-2-0-1, 13 points) Czech-mated the Blades (7-4-0-1, 15), as their Czech Republic imports scored the tying and winning goals in the third period.
Kalus scored a short-handed goal at 4:41 and Dominik Uher notched the winner with 2:56 to play before Blake Gal added an empty netter.
In both cases, the setup was the bigger play.
Aviani stole the puck at center ice, setting up a 2-on-1. Kalus missed the first shot but quickly got his rebound and beat Andrey Makarov, who finished with 34 saves.
The duo had hooked up late in the second period to make it a one-goal game. Aviani dug the puck out of the corner and took it to the net before Kalus notched his first goal.
“It was real easy because Mike Aviani had a great game,” Kalus said. “I’m happy to play with him.”
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