The Red Deer Rebels failed to move closer to clinching a WHL playoff spot Tuesday night as they fell 3-2 at the Westerner Park Centrium to the Central Division leading Edmonton Oil Kings.
Trey Fix-Wolansky opened the scoring for Edmonton 12 minutes into the game when he ripped his 37th goal of the season past Rebels goalie Ethan Anders.
Red Deer tied the game at the 16:15 mark when Dawson Barteaux unleashed a one timer from the blue line for a 5-on-3 power play goal, Barteaux’s seventh goal of the year.
Neither team scored in the middle period, but it wasn’t from a lack of effort from the Oil Kings who outshot the Rebels 17-3 in the middle frame.
Edmonton pulled ahead 3-1 in the third period on goals from Vladimir Alistrov at 4:12 and Vince Loschiavo on a power play at 7:28.
Red Deer made it interesting with a power play goal, a Jeff de Wit tip in of a Barteaux shot for his 26th goal of the year, with 7:33 left to play.
The Rebels pulled the goalie in the final minute. Reese Johnson hit the post with a shot and that’s as close as Red Deer would come as Edmonton held on for the one goal win.
Edmonton outshot Red Deer 31-21 on the night and was 1-for-2 on the power play. Red Deer was 2-for-6 with the man advantage.
“I didn’t like our last two periods at all. I thought we were very, very average at best,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter said scathingly.
“We got out worked tonight. We got outcompeted. There wasn’t a forward that I can say I liked here tonight. From our top players on down we were just too soft.
“They’re a good hockey team, but you’ve got to play harder than that. That’s unacceptable tonight.
“For a team that’s fighting to get in the playoffs, you’ve got to have urgency. Why did we only have urgency in the last frigging minute of the game?”
Red Deer remains tied with Medicine Hat with 72 points on the season. They own the Eastern Conference wildcard playoff spots and are three points better than the Brandon Wheat Kings.
The Rebels were minus the services of star defenceman Alexander Alexeyev, who is out week to week with a lower body injury he suffered Friday versus Brandon.
Alex Morozoff also missed the game for Red Deer as he served the first of a two-game suspension for a boarding major and game misconduct from Saturday versus Kootenay.
The Rebels are back in action Wednesday night when they visit the Medicine Hat Tigers (7 p.m. on 106.7 THE DRIVE).
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