Kansas City Mavericks defender Willie Raskob did his best to try and describe his game-winning goal in Tuesday night’s 4-3 victory over Tulsa at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena – but he couldn’t.
“I’m really not sure how I scored it,” quipped Raskob, who took a perfect pass from Mike Panowyk from behind the net, as he was falling in front of Tulsa goaltender Ian Keserich.
Raskob got his stick on the puck and managed to flip it over Keserich’s shoulder with just 3 minutes and 24 seconds left in the game to send a vocal crowd of 4,896 into a frenzy.
“I guess it was better to land on my butt than my head because I was able to get my stick on the puck – but it all started with that pass,” Raskob said. “I don’t know how I scored it, but I am happy I did.”
As he sat on the ice, he thrust his arms into the air and continued his celebration with his teammates.
But the Mavericks knew the game was far from over. With 1:03 left on the clock, the Oilers pulled Keserich and added a sixth attacker. They got off two quick shots that Mavericks goalie Mason McDonald saved with his glove side to continue his brilliance in the net.
“With Mason in there, we just have so much confidence,” said Kansas City forward Corey Durocher, who scored two goals in the Mavericks third straight win after suffering through a seven-game losing streak on the road.
“Mase has been unbelievable this season. You saw what he did tonight. This game had a playoff atmosphere. The fans were juiced, and we fed off their excitement. This could be a preview of the playoffs, so this is a big win.”
The Mavericks clinched a playoff berth Saturday night in Fort Wayne, where they beat the Komets 5-2.
Kansas City is now 35-30-3-2 overall and 24-10-1-1 at home. They begin the playoffs April 17 and 19 at home, against an undetermined opponent. It could be the 40-23-4-2 Oilers.
“This game felt like a playoff game,” said McDonald, who made 37 saves on 40 shots. “You have to be ready for anything. They got off some shots late in the game, but there was no way we were going to let them get back and tie it.
“Willie gave us the lead, and we were going to make sure we held onto it.”
Durocher’s first goal of the night came at 1:07 of the first period. But a 5-on-3 power-play opportunity allowed the Oilers to knot the score at 1-all at 7:50 of the first period on an Erick Duplak goal.
The Oilers took a 2-1 lead at 1:22 of the second period on a Roman Ammirato goal. Mavericks captain Rocco Carzo tied it at 2-all on a power-play goal at 6:52 as he took a pass from David Dziuryzinski in front of the net and chipped it past Keserich.
Dziuryzinski then scored at 16:53 of the second period as he outskated an Oiler across the ice and hit a slap shot past Keserich.
“A little luck was involved with that goal,” Dziuryzinski quipped, “he was right on top of me, but I managed to outskate him, and get the puck in the back of the net.”
Oilers’ star Adam Pleshach tied the game at 3-all just 1:06 into the third period, but that just seemed to inspire the Mavericks as they dominated most of the final period.
“There was a lot of intensity on the ice, the game had a playoff feel,” said Mavericks head coach John-Scott Dickson, who won his 100th career game Saturday and is now 102-92-11-9 in three seasons as the Mavericks head coach.
“We might see them in the first round of the playoffs – you won’t know until the season is over and all the points are totaled – but this was a big win in front of a fired up crowd. The guys played hard, and it was nice to get that goal from Raskob and hold on for the win.
“The guys played hard during that losing streak, and never pointed an accusing finger. Now, we’re on a little three-game winning streak and playing the type of hockey you want to be playing heading into the playoffs.”
The Mavericks close out the season with two games at Rapid City this weekend.