Rebels suffer third-period meltdown in 5-4 loss to Oil Kings
Oil Kings 5 Rebels 4
EDMONTON — A dominant second period led to a brutal third for the Red Deer Rebels in WHL action Sunday.
The Rebels scored three unanswered goals while outshooting the Edmonton Oil Kings 17-4 in the middle frame.
But the hosts turned the tide in the final stanza with a 17-8 advantage in shots and four goals.
In the end, Red Deer couldn’t maintain a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes and dropped a 5-4 decision before a crowd of 6,452 at Rogers Place.
“We had a third period like we had the other night (in a 6-0 loss Friday to the visiting Vancouver Giants),” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter.
“We stopped competing, stopped working, got on our heels and took bad penalties.”
The Rebels found themselves in severe penalty trouble late in the contest, with Oleg Zaytzev fingered for interference and Jeff de Wit assessed a double minor for high sticking.
Sure enough, Vince Loschiavo knocked home a bouncing puck to snap a 4-4 tie.
“You’re a tired hockey club and you put yourself down a full two minutes of five-on-three,” said Sutter.
The double minor to de Wit was a killer.
“You have to take a hit, you can’t retaliate. The guy finished his check on him and he (de Wit) got his stick up and hit him in the face (drawing blood),” said Sutter.
The Oil Kings led 1-0 after one period on an early goal by Jake Neighbours, who beat Red Deer netminder Ethan Anders from the right circle on his off wing.
Oleg Zaytsev evened the count midway through the second period, scoring from the slot on a shot to the glove side of Oil Kings goaltender Todd Scott.
The Rebels carried the play the rest of the period, with Dawson Barteaux notching a go-ahead marker on a great feed from Reese Johnson, and Johnson potting a power-play tally just under three minutes later. The Red Deer captain connected on a one-timer of a nifty backhand feed from Brandon Hagel.
And then came the fateful third period, which Sutter didn’t see coming.
“I thought we’d make a push in another playoff type game,” he said, in reference to Saturday’s 2-1 shootout win over Edmonton at the Centrium.
“But there were too many soft plays, too many mistakes. We weren’t hard on pucks.”
Andrei Pavlenko cut the Rebels’ lead to one early in the third, burying a rebound, but Johnson restored the visitors’ two-goal cushion shortly after when he quickly relayed a behind-the-net pass from Josh Tarzwell past Scott.
It was all Oi Kings from there as captain Trey-Fix Wolansky scored twice, setting the stage for Loschiavo’s winner. Fix-Wolansky connected right off a faceoff at 4:52 and beat Anders to the top of the net exactly four minutes later.
The defeat left the Rebels three points behind the Oil Kings for top spot in the Central Division. Red Deer, in fact, dropped to third place in the division when the Lethbridge Hurricanes picked up a point in a 5-4 shootout loss to the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers later Sunday.
Red Deer has four games in hand on Edmonton, have played one fewer than Lethbridge and three fewer than Medicine Hat, which has pulled to within a single point of the Rebels.
“I saw times tonight when we were assertive and we were jumping and playing like we can,” said Sutter of the positives he detected in the setback.
“Then we sit back in the third. We had forwards skating backwards in the neutral zone, which allows teams to come at you.
“We have to be better than that. But we’ve had that happen to us too many times this year. We have to break that habit.”
Notable: Scott finished with 31 saves, one more than Anders . . . The Rebels were one-for-six on the power play, the Oil Kings one-for-four . . . Former Rebels defenceman Alex Petrovic was traded to the Edmonton Oilers from the Florida Panthers early Sunday.