Playoff Hopes Dashed by 3-2 OT Loss to Cincinnati
Cincinnati, OH - The Chicago Express, proud member of the ECHL and proud affiliate of the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets, fell in the waning minutes of overtime by a 3-2 score to have their playoffs hopes dashed by Cincinnati at the U.S. Bank Arena on Saturday night.
Cincinnati came out flying in the first period, peppering G Rob Madore with 9 shots within the first five minutes of the first period. After Madore denied a penalty shot attempt by LW Garrett Wilson, the Express began to turn the tide back the other way. With less than two minutes left in the period, F Mike Embach put Chicago ahead. Embach stole an outlet pass in the neutral zone raced in along the right wing, and snapped a shot at the front of the net. The shot was partially blocked by a Cincinnati defenseman, popped up in the air, and floated over the shoulder of G Brian Foster to put the Express up 1-0 at the first break. The Cyclones outshot Chicago 16-4 in the opening frame.
RW Chaz Johnson stretched the Chicago lead to 2-0 over Cincinnati 5:08 into the second stanza. F Anthony picked up his own rebound, circled around the net, and fed a pass to Johnson, who blasted a one-timer past Foster. The Cyclones were able crack the scoresheet later on in the frame, cutting the Chicago lead to 2-1. A broken play saw a puck bounce toward the left post, and F Dan Eves was right there to redirect the puck mere inches over the goal line. The Express continued to lead 2-1 after the middle frame.
The Express continued to hold the one goal advantage through the majority of the third stanza, but a late power play helped Cincinnati force overtime. With the goaltender pulled for a 6-on-4 advantage, F Anthony Luciani finished off a terrific passing play to even the score at 2-2 and force overtime with just 2:11 left in the game.
Another late power play, this time in overtime would spell the doom for Chicago's season. With the 4-on-3 advantage, RW Mathieu Aubin found himself all alone on the left post, made one quick move, and buried his chance to sink Chicago 3-2 in overtime. Chicago finished tied with the Royals in overall points, but with the Royals owning the tie-breaker against Chicago the Express will fall one point shy of a playoff birth.
Chicago played their final game of the season, finishing with a record of 34-26-8-4... The Express ended the regular season with a dominant record against the North Division, going 24-15-45... G Rob Madore surpassed his own record for saves in a game, stopping 49 shots in the game.
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