HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. - Peter Child picked up his first professional goal for the Wheeling Nailers on Wednesday night, but the story of the game was the Chicago Express' power play. Chicago netted all three of its goals on the man advantage, and received 34 saves from Rob Madore, as they defeated the Nailers 3-1 on home ice.
The Nailers (35-22-6 - 76) remained four points behind Elmira in the race for the Atlantic Division title, but reduced their magic number for clinching a playoff spot to 10 with Cincinnati's loss. Wheeling sits nine points back of Eastern Conference-leading Gwinnett, which won its seventh in a row Wednesday, but have a pair of games in hand.
The Nailers had some unbelievable chances to open the scoring in the first period, but came up empty despite taking 19 shots on goal. On the other side of the ice, the Express managed to net one of their 11 shots, capitalizing on a power-play opportunity.
Maxime Gratchev rushed into the offensive zone, and dropped a pass off for Scott Wietecha on the right side. Wietecha skated in, and scored his 12th with a wrist shot into the top-right corner of the goal.
Midway through the second period, Wheeling broke through Chicago rookie netminder, tying the score. Matt Schepke chipped the puck off of the right wing boards to Chase Watson in center ice. Watson entered the offensive zone with Ben Farrer, before slipping a pass through to trailer Child, who wristed in his first professional marker.
The Express retook the lead later in the period, with a second power-play goal. Darcy Campbell took a feed off of the left wing wall from Chaz Johnson, faked two shots, before dropping back to the top of the right circle, where he sent in a wrist shot.
Wheeling0 1 0 - 1
Chicago1 1 1 -3
1st Period-1, Chicago, Wietecha 12 (Gratchev, Ellington), 16:50 (PP). Penalties-Marvin Chi (slashing ), 6:31; Farrer Whl (hooking), 14:57; Marvin Chi (interference), 18:06.
2nd Period-2, Wheeling, Child 1 (Watson, Schepke), 10:55. 3, Chicago, Campbell 7 (Johnson, Paquette), 17:08 (PP). Penalties-Torquato Whl (tripping), 3:54; Campbell Chi (cross-checking, unsportsmanlike conduct), 6:22; Hotham Whl (holding), 7:14; Crowder Whl (hooking), 16:06.
3rd Period-4, Chicago, Paquette 9 (Zion, Faubert), 16:40 (PP). Penalties-Ellington Chi (interference), 10:28; Lenes Whl (high-sticking), 15:59; Barton Whl (hooking), 17:23.
Shots on Goal-Wheeling 19-9-7-35. Chicago 11-6-9-26.
Power-Play Opportunities-Wheeling 0-; Chicago 3-5.
Goalies-Wheeling, Delmas 18-11-1-1 (26 shots-23 saves). Chicago, Madore 2-1-0-0 (35 shots-34 saves).
Referee-Nick Krebsbach (8); Linesmen-Brian Oliver (36), Jesse Pletsch (54).
Chicago added one final goal in the third period, as Danick Paquette scored off of a rebound as the Express posted a 3-for-5 mark on the power play.
Pittsburgh native Madore played an incredible game in goal for the Express, as he stopped 34 of the 35 shots he faced. Peter Delmas suffered the loss, making 23 saves on 26 shots.
The Nailers return home to WesBanco Arena on Friday night, where they will welcome the Reading Royals for a 7:35 faceoff.