ELMIRA, N.Y. - With reinforcements aplenty thanks to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the Wheeling Nailers hoped to jump the Elmira Jackals for first place in the Atlantic Division on Wednesday night. When it was all said and done, the Jackals emerged with a three-point lead and tied for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Paul Crowder continued his torrid offensive pace as of late, as he netted his sixth goal - five-game goal streak - in the last four games . But the Nailers (32-19-5 - 69) came up on the wrong end of a 3-2 decision.
Wheeling has a pair of games in hand on the Jackals (34-20-4 - 72).
The first period got off to a similar start to Wheeling's game Sunday, as offense was the name of the game. The Jackals opened the scoring at the 5:23 mark, as Jimmy Martin banked a shot off of Peter Delmas' right skate from the right corner of the ice.
The Nailers answered at the 9:09 mark, as Cody Chupp, sent down along with Philip Samuelsson, Matt Rust and Cody Wild, deflected Andrew Hotham's point shot into the back of the cage. Hotham's assist was his team-leading 29th of the year, giving him points in five straight games. Denver Manderson also picked up a helper.
Elmira retook the lead 3:41 later, when Artem Demkov scored with a wrist shot from the right circle.
The Jackals got the lone tally in the second period, and it came 36 seconds in. Delmas sticked Jordan Pietrus' chance in behind the net, where it was gathered in by Rob Bellamy. Bellamy immediately brought the puck back to the front, where he was able to sneak the puck off of Delmas' left pad and in.
Wheeling nearly got a goal back in the final minute of the period, but had it waved off, due to the puck being gloved in.
With 6:52 left in the third period, the Nailers made an attempt at a comeback. Crowder picked up a loose puck in the slot, spun, and sent a backhander through Brian Stewart's legs, making the score 3-2. Barton and Samuelsson picked up the assists.
Unfortunately, Wheeling was unable to get any closer, as the Jackals took the game into the win column.
Stewart got a win, making 22 saves on 24 shots. Delmas suffered the loss for the Nailers, stopping 23 of the 26 shots he faced.
The Nailers' next game takes place on Friday night when they visit the Toledo Walleye at Huntington Center.
Wheeling1 0 1 - 2
Elmira2 1 0 -3
1st Period-1, Elmira, Martin 7 (Kirschner, Campanale), 5:23. 2, Wheeling, Chupp 15 (Hotham, Manderson), 9:09 (PP). 3, Elmira, Demkov 18 (Gazley, Campanale), 12:50. Penalties-Chupp Whl (slashing ), 1:30; Pietrus Elm (slashing ), 8:09; Ross Whl (fighting - major), 9:45; Bourbeau Elm (fighting - major), 9:45; Samuelsson Whl (tripping), 17:40.
2nd Period-4, Elmira, Bellamy 8 (Pietrus, Kurtz), 0:36. Penalties-Barton Whl (high-sticking), 11:36; Demkov Elm (tripping), 18:32.
3rd Period-5, Wheeling, Crowder 18 (Barton, Samuelsson), 13:08. Penalties-Minella Whl (high-sticking - double), 2:12; Rivet Elm (high-sticking), 14:38.
Shots on Goal-Wheeling 8-9-7-24. Elmira 12-7-7-26.
Power-Play Opportunities-Wheeling 1-3; Elmira 0-5.
Goalies-Wheeling, Delmas 15-7-1-0 (26 shots-23 saves). Elmira, Stewart 18-10-1-0 (24 shots-22 saves).
Referee-Ryan Murphy (10); Linesmen-Ray King (39), Judson Ritter (70).