The Chicago Wolves kicked off the final quarter of their 2011-12 regular season Sunday afternoon at Allstate Arena with one of their finest wins of the year.
Mark Mancari delivered his second hat trick of the season and Darren Haydar registered his 100th goal with the Wolves in a 4-1 triumph over the Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City Barons.
Goaltender Eddie Lack stopped 32 shots as the Wolves (31-22-2-3) ended a five-game winless streak that tied their season high. They also pulled within 3 points of first-place Charlotte in the Midwest Division.
We looked a lot better today than we did last night and it is a bit of a relief to get a win," said Wolves head coach Craig MacTavish. "Now we can build on this momentum instead of trying to rebuild after a loss."
The Wolves snapped two slumps in one fell swoop with the game's first goal, which came at the 10:15 mark of the first period. Mancari blasted a shot from the left point that whizzed through Byron Bitz's screen and past Oklahoma City goaltender David LeNeveu. Kevin Connauton and Haydar picked up assists on the score.
Mancari's first goal ended a 220-minute, 45-second stretch where the Wolves managed just 1 goal. The Wolves also netted their second power-play goal in the last 45 chances.
Just 26 seconds into the middle period, Mancari gained possession of the puck in a crowd along the boards at the blue line and wristed a shot past LeVeneu. Seven seconds later, Haydar took advantage of a turnover to give the Wolves a 3-0 lead, as Andrew Gordon earned his first assist with the Wolves.
Haydar's first goal in 18 games enabled him to join Steve Maltais (454 goals), Rob Brown (157) and Brett Sterling (143) as the only players in Wolves annals to reach the 100-goal mark. It also knocked LeNeveu from the game in favor of Olivier Roy.
Oklahoma City (35-17-2-4) cut the margin to 3-1 with 42 seconds left in the second period on Linus Omark's sixth goal of the season.
Mancari iced the victory when he swiped the puck from Barons defenseman Taylor Chorney and raced in for a breakaway goal at 17:29 of the third period. Mancari owns 5 hat tricks in the last two seasons and eight multiple-goal efforts this year.