Omaha, NE – Just four weeks remain in the regular season for the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights. In that time, they’ve got to secure their first-ever berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs. They’ll finish off a brief three-game home stand on Wednesday against Milwaukee before beginning a four-game road trip.
This week, the Knights make stops in Houston and San Antonio on Saturday and Sunday. The Knights earned three of six possible points last week with a win in Milwaukee, an overtime loss to Chicago and a regulation loss to Peoria.
They are now 39-22-4-1, good for 83 points, just one point from tying their total from last season. The record puts the Knights four points behind Chicago with three games in hand. More importantly, the Knights are just three points ahead of third-place Milwaukee with two games in hand. The top two teams in the West Division will receive home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
LAST WEEK''S RESULTS:
Wednesday, March 14: Ak-Sar-Ben Knights 3, Milwaukee Admirals 2 SO
In their final regular season visit to Milwaukee, the Knights fell behind 1-0 after one period on a goal by Milwaukee’s Kim Staal but tied the game on a goal by Brandon Prust at 13:03 of the second period. Andrei Taratukhin gave the Knights a 2-1 lead halfway through the third period before Staal scored again in the late going to force overtime and the shootout. Milwaukee took a 1-0 lead in round three, but Tomi Maki scored in round five to extend the shootout. In round eleven, Taratukhin scored again. Curtis McElhinney then stopped the Admirals’ Chris Durno to end it. McElhinney made 35 saves to earn the win.
Friday, March 16: Chicago Wolves 5, Ak-Sar-Ben Knights 4 OT
The Knights build a 1-0 lead after one period on a goal by Dustin Boyd. The Wolves rallied in the second period for a pair of powerplay goals from Darren Haydar and one in the last minute from Brett Sterling to lead 3-1 after two. Cam Cunning scored 43 seconds into the third period to get the Knights to within one, but Jordan LaVallee responded at 9:06 to make it 4-2. The Knights battled back for a tie, getting goals from Kris Chucko and Carsen Germyn in a span of 2:19 to make it 4-4. Nathan Oystrick ended the overtime in just 17 seconds, powering a shot past Curtis McElhinney. The Wolves finished the season 5-0-0-0 in Omaha. McElhinney made 39 saves in the loss.
Saturday, March 17: Peoria Rivermen 5, Ak-Sar-Ben Knights 4
For the second straight game, the Knights would forge ahead first. This time, David Van der Gulik would put his team in front. Trent Whitfield tallied in the late going of the period to make it 1-1. Yan Stastny gave Peoria the lead when he scored a powerplay goal at 7:42 of the second period, but the Knights’ responded just 1:44 later when Brandon Prust tipped in a shot from Kris Chucko. The Knights broke the tie in the early going of the third period. Carsen Germyn scored a pair of powerplay goals just 24 seconds apart to make it 4-2. The Rivermen got a fortunate bounce when a shot from Jon DiSalvatore caromed off the leg of teammate Kevin Croxton and past Curtis McElhinney to make it 4-3. Peoria then tied it on a shorthanded goal by defenseman Doug Lynch that came during a three-on-two rush. Michal Birner scored the game-winner just 2:30 later when he whipped a pass from Whitfield past McElhinney. The win pushed Peoria to a perfect 9-0-0-0 all-time in Omaha. McElhinney finished with 22 saves.
AK-SAR-BEN KNIGHTS BASICS
POWERPLAY: 54/378, 14.3%
VS. DIV.: 29-16-4-1
PENALTY KILL: 329/382, 86.1%
LAST TEN: 6-3-1-0
OPPONENTS THIS WEEK:
Wednesday, March 21 vs. Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators/Edmonton Oilers)
Tenth of ten meetings; fifth of five meetings in Omaha
The Ak-Sar-Ben Knights and the Admirals play for the final time during the regular season on Wednesday. The Knights are 8-1-0-0 against the Admirals this season including a 3-1-0-0 mark at the Civic Auditorium. The Knights lead the all time series, 11-5-0-3. Each of the last six games between the two teams have been decided by one goal. Three of those games have gone to a shootout. The Admirals are in third place in the West Division with a record of 34-22-4-8, good for 80 points. That puts them just three behind the Knights. The Admirals are 18-10-1-5 on the road. Cal O’Reilly leads current players in scoring with 14 goals and 38 assists for 52 points. Goalie Pekka Rinne has played 20 games since returning from an off-season injury. He’s 10-5-4 with a team-leading 2.48 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage. The Admirals do not play before visiting the Knights.
Saturday, March 24 @ Houston Aeros (Minnesota Wild)
Ninth of ten meetings; fifth of five meetings in Houston, TX
The Knights make their final visit of the season to Houston on Saturday. The Knights have gone 7-0-0-1 against the Aeros this season including a mark of 3-0-0-1 in Houston. Like their season series with Milwaukee, nearly every one of these games has been close. Six of the eight games have been decided by two goals or fewer. All time, the Knights are 10-3-1-4 against the Aeros. Houston begins the week in seventh place in the West Division with a record of 22-35-3-6, good for 53 points. The Aeros are 13-14-1-4 at home. Matt Foy leads the Aeros in scoring with 24 goals and 21 assists for 45 points in 57 games. Defenseman Curtis Murphy is second in team scoring with 33 points including a team-best 26 assists. Dieter Kochan has played a team-high 18 games with fellow goaltender Josh Harding on recall to Minnesota. He’s 3-13-1 with a 3.20 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage. The Aeros finish a five-game road trip on Tuesday and Wednesday with games at Manitoba. They’ll host Rochester on Friday before welcoming the Knights.
Sunday, March 25 @ San Antonio Rampage (Phoenix Coyotes)
Seventh of ten meetings; fourth of five meetings in San Antonio, TX
The Knights conclude the weekend in San Antonio for the first of two games against the Rampage. The two teams will meet again on Tuesday, March 27th. The Knights are 4-1-1-0 against the Rampage this season including a record of 2-0-1-0 in San Antonio. All time, the Knights are 10-4-1-1 against the Rampage. San Antonio starts the week in sixth place in the West with a record of 28-36-1-4, good for 61 points. The Rampage is 16-15-0-2 at home this season. Yanick Lehoux leads the team in scoring with 25 goals and 39 assists for 64 points. Donald MacLean is second with 53 points including a team-best 29 goals. Both David LeNeveu and Josh Tordjman have won 12 games in goal this season. Tordjman leads the team with a 2.64 goals-against average and .919 save percentage. The Rampage plays at home against Rochester on Saturday before hosting the Knights.
With their 3-2 shootout win over Milwaukee last Wednesday, the Ak-Sar-Ben Knights moved into a tie with Houston for first in shootout wins (7).
Curtis McElhinney earned his league-leading sixth shootout win on Wednesday in Milwaukee.
With a goal on Wednesday at Milwaukee, center Andrei Taratukhin set a new team record for points by a rookie in one season (49).
With the deciding goal in the shootout on Wednesday, Taratukhin moved into a tie for first with Providence’s David Krejci for shootout winning goals (4).
For player stats during the 2005-06 season, please visit the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knight's roster page by clicking here.