The Iowa Stars traveled to Omaha last night with a 3-1 lead in their Calder Cup Playoff series with the Ak-Sar-Ben Knights, and were looking to close out the series with a victory. The club will have to wait for its advancement the next round however, as Omaha posted a 3-2 overtime victory to force Game Six tonight in Des Moines.
Iowa took a 2-1 lead into the third period and outshot Omaha 8-3 in the third stanza, but the Knights' Chris Lee tied the game at two with a little more than two minutes remaining in regulation. Then, 10 minutes into the extra frame, Omaha's Tomi Maki beat Iowa goaltender Dan Ellis to keep the Knights' hopes alive.
"The fourth win is always the hardest of the series," Ellis told the Des Moines Register, after stopping 22 of the 25 shots he faced. "They were able to capitalize on their opportunity and it was a great game both ways. We have to pick our game up a notch more, and we will feed off our home crowd tomorrow night."
Omaha opened the scoring for the fourth time in the series, as Warren Peters put the Knights ahead 1-0 five minutes into the contest. As was the case in Game Four, Ellis kept Iowa in the game with some stellar goaltending until the club's scorers could get on track.
Iowa evened the game one midway through the second period, as Loui Eriksson pounced on a rebound off the stick of Joel Lundqvist and fired a wrist-shot past Omaha goaltender Curtis McElhinney. It was the third goal that Eriksson and Lundqvist have combined to score in two games since being assigned to Iowa just days after finishing Dallas' grueling, seven-game Western Conference Quarterfinals series with Vancouver.
The Stars took a 2-1 lead four minutes later, as Konstantin Pushkarev deflected a Mario Scalzo shot past McElhinney. Pushkarev was acquired by the Dallas Stars in the deal that brought defenseman Mattias Norstrom from Los Angeles to the Lone Star State at the trade deadline, February 27.
Following Lee's tying goal for Omaha and with just seconds remaining in regularion, Iowa defenseman Matt Niskanen had a glorious scoring chance, only to see his attempt deflect off McElhinney's pads.
Game Six of the American Hockey League's West Division Semifinal series will take place at 7 p.m. tonight at Des Moines' Wells Fargo Arena.