Mavericks eliminated from playoff contention after another loss to Tulsa

Bill Althaus
The Examiner

TULSA, Okla. — The only thing that bothered coach Tad O'Had about his team's performance Saturday night at the BOK Center was the final score.

The Tulsa Oilers edged the Mavericks 3-2 in a loss that means their late-season run to the playoffs has come to an end.

The Mavericks end the weekend with a 26-29-8-2 record. They are in seventh place in the Western Division with 62 points. Utah is in fourth place with 77 points. There are seven games left in the regular season, but even if the Mavericks won out and Utah did not win another game, Kansas City could not reach that fourth-place slot in the standings.

"I liked our work rate and compete tonight," O'Had said by phone. "We played a strong game, even though we did not get the result we wanted. But there are many positives we can take from this game."

Rookie Matt Greenfield stopped 26 of 29 shots, but it was not quite enough as Kansas City's Giorgio Estephan scored at 7:31 of the first period and Marcus Crawford scored at 1:10 of the third period, to give the Mavericks a brief 2-1 lead.

Tulsa's Matt Lane scored just three minutes after Crawford's goal to knot the game at 2-all and Conlan Keenan scored the game-winner at 6:53.

The Mavericks had won 2-1 in overtime at home Thursday to keep their playoff hopes alive but stumbled again on Friday at Cable Dahmer Arena, falling 6-2.

O'Had is not sure what team was on the ice Friday night, as penalties and sloppy play led to a 4-0 Tulsa first-period lead that resulted in a 6-2 loss that left the first-year coach fuming. 

"From a team standpoint, we did not compete for each other – and that is unacceptable," O'Had said after his seventh-place team fell to 11-14-6-0 at home. "Stupid, selfish penalties led to their 4-0 first period. We have to play with hard skill, and we're playing soft. ... We got two (points) in a great win last night, and then, we follow that win up with this? 

"We did nothing to protect our goalkeeper tonight – and our goalkeepers, (Andrew) Shortridge (who was in the net Friday), (Matt) Ginn and (Matt) Greenfield are the reason we can even talk about the chance of making the playoffs. We did nothing to stop the odd-man rush. 

"We need to stand up for each other, but not take selfish and stupid penalties. We need to be good teammates. You mentioned frustration. Frustration doesn't even come close to the way I feel right now." 

Tulsa's Michael McNicholas opened the rout with a quick goal, just 1:49 into the first period. Vincent Marleau followed with a goal at 3:56. 

Adam Pleskach, who finished with a hat trick, then scored two power-play goals in which Shortridge had little chance to keep the puck from the back of the net. 

"We laid an egg in Allen last week, and we laid another one tonight – and we're battling for a playoff spot," O'Had added. "To play the way we played tonight is unacceptable, especially in front of our home fans." 

Marcus Crawford stopped the bleeding momentarily when he scored the Mavericks’ first goal at 2:57 of the second period, but Tulsa followed with a Matt Lane goal to make it 5-1. 

Pleskach scored his third goal in the third period before Kansas City's Greg Moro scored with just 59 seconds left in the game to account for the final score. 

Shortridge stopped 28 of 34 shots while Tulsa's Roman Durny stopped 25 of 27.