Kevin Baker scored a pair of goals including the game-winner late in the second period that helped Arizona (25-24-6) knock off Wichita (23-27-4) on Sunday afternoon by the final score of 3-1 at INTRUST Bank Arena in front of 9,010 fans. Nick McParland scored the only Thunder goal on the night. Wichita dips six points back of the Sundogs for the eighth playoff spot and is 2-4-0 in the regular-season series against Arizona.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net in a fast-paced first period. There was a playoff feel to the contest in the early going. Garrett Gruenke and Sebastien Geoffrion were sent off just 36 seconds in for unsportsmanlike conduct penalties to set the tone. Arizona led in the shot department 13-11 after 20 minutes.
In the second, Arizona struck first when Geoffrion swung around the Thunder net, fed a pass to the slot and Alex Velischek fired it past Taylor Nelson at 2:29 to give the Sundogs a 1-0 lead. Wichita didn't waste any time answering the call as McParland caught a centering pass and one-timed it home as he was falling down past Andrew Engelage to even the score. With 30 seconds left, Baker caught a feed in the slot on an odd-man rush and fired it past Nelson to re-gain the lead for the Sundogs heading into the third up 2-1.
Wichita threw the kitchen sink at Engelage in the third, but the Arizona netminder stood tall. Wichita outshot Arizona 11-5 in the final frame, but couldn't get another past the Arizona netminder. Baker tacked on his second of the night with six minutes remaining to give the visitors a two-goal cushion. The Thunder received two late power plays when Michael Couch was sent off for roughing at 15:21 and Alex Tuckerman for closing his hand on the puck at 17:24. Arizona killed off both chances and held on for the victory.
Wichita loses for the third game in a row while the Sundogs losing streak is stopped at seven. The Sundogs become the fourth team in the last six games that has broken a losing streak against Wichita. Tulsa, Allen and Quad City each defeated Wichita to break losing streaks in the last two weeks against the Thunder. Tonight's crowd was the largest of the season at home for Wichita. McParland tallies his seventh goal of the season and sits in 11th place in rookie scoring (7g, 14a). Nelson takes the loss, stopping 20 of 23 shots. Engelage grabs the victory, stopping 31 of 32 shots he faced.
Wichita went 0-for-4 on the power play. Arizona was 0-for-1.
Wichita finishes a busy stretch of four games in five nights on Tuesday evening in Rapid City against the Rush at 8:05 p.m.