The Chicago Wolves and Milwaukee exchanged goals for much of their intense Amtrak Rivalry game on Saturday night, but the Admirals netted back-to-back scores in the third period to claim a 4-3 win at Allstate Arena.
Wolves captain Darren Haydar and defensemen Kevin Connauton and Mark Matheson scored goals for the Wolves (32-24-5-4), who dropped from a seventh-place tie with the Admirals into ninth in the Western Conference standings. The top eight qualify for the playoffs.
"It is now six times we have lost to Milwaukee in the third period," said Wolves coach Scott Arniel. "As much as we try and talk about it and change things, we still haven't found a way to beat those guys."
The Admirals (34-25-4-3) opened the scoring at 8:54 of the first period on the game's first power-play opportunity. Defenseman Mattias Ekholm claimed the puck in the slot and snapped a shot at Wolves goaltender Matt Climie (19-20-3, 13 saves). Admirals center Austin Watson deflected the puck around Climie into the net.
Haydar evened the score at 14:02 when he took a pass from Eric Kattelus across the blue line, skated into the far circle and used defenseman Ryan Ellis as a screen, lifting the puck past Admirals goaltender Magnus Hellberg on the stick side. Defenseman Adam Polasek also picked up an assist.
The Admirals regained the lead on Daniel Bang's goal at 7:38 of the second period. Patrick Cehlin stickhandled past a Wolves defenseman, attacked the crease and fed the puck to Bang, who squeezed a shot from close range past two diving Wolves.
The Wolves received a series of power-play chances in the second period and benefited from the man advantage at 15:27 to make it 2-2. Connauton controlled Haydar's pass on the blue line, skated two strides toward the slot and gunned a shot past Hellberg's stick. Haydar and Bill Sweatt earned assists.
The Admirals grabbed their third lead of the night when Watson's centering pass from the near circle banked off the skate of a Wolves defender into the net at 7:25 of the third period. The Admirals' Juuso Puustinen added an insurance goal on the power play at 16:25.
The Wolves closed within 4-3 with 53 seconds remaining when Matheson took the puck after a mad scramble in front of Hellberg and wristed a shot into the net from the near circle. Brett Sterling and Sweatt were credited with assists.
Hellberg (15-10-0) registered 25 saves, including a point-blank stop against Matheson in the final second.