A late third period goal powered the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 4-3 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes Sunday evening at the ENMAX Centre.
It was the Canes second straight loss, having dropped a 6-1 decision the night before in Red Deer. Still, the playoff picture for the Hurricanes isn't clear. It will come down to this final weekend of the regular season to determine which club they'll play. Right now it's either Regina or Moose Jaw as the most likely opponents. Again, things will play out over the next few days. The Hurricanes only need one point in their remaining two games to secure first in the Central Division as they have the tiebreaker if the end up even in points with Red Deer.
Back to the game Sunday. The Hurricanes opened the scoring with an early goal from Brayden Burke, his 25th of the season, making it 1-0 Lethbridge. Edmonton later tied the game and eventually took the lead with a pair of power play goals, one from Lane Bauer and one from Brandon Baddock in a span of just over three minutes. Before the end of the period, the Hurricanes tied the game, thanks to Andrew Nielsen's 18th of the season. That was a power play goal as well and evened things at 2-2 after one.
In the second, the scored stayed tied until the final minute of the period. With just 13 seconds to go, the Oil Kings again took a one goal lead. Aaron Irving beat Stuart Skinner to give Edmonton a 3-2 lead through 40 minutes of play.
Then in the third period, the Hurricanes pushed for the equalizer, however an empty net, shorthanded goal late in the period sealed it for the Oil Kings. Brett Pollock gave Edmonton a 4-2 lead with that goal. It turned out to a very important goal, because the Hurricanes ended up scoring shortly after. A power play goal from Giorgio Estephan cut the lead to 4-3 with his 31st of the season, however that's as close as the Canes would get as Edmonton skated away with a 4-3 victory.
The loss dropped the Hurricanes overall record to 45-23-1-1 on the season. Edmonton out shot the Canes 44-35. Both teams finished the night 2/6 on the power play.
It was a big win for Edmonton as it keeps them two points ahead of Medicine Hat for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Oil Kings also have one game in hand on the Tigers.
Speaking of Medicine Hat, the Hurricanes and Tigers will close out the regular season with a home-and-home set Friday and Saturday. The Canes will give out their annual player awards prior to Friday's game at the ENMAX Centre.