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Mavericks move back into playoff contention with a victory over Tulsa

With the win, the Mavs are now tied with Tulsa for the final playoff spot.
With the win, the Mavs are now tied with Tulsa for the final playoff spot.Missouri Mavericks

Two weeks ago, the Tulsa Oilers came in town and took two extremely important games from the Mavericks on their home ice.  After the weekend sweep at the hands of Tulsa, the Mavericks did not appear to be a serious playoff contender.  Maybe the Mavericks Front Office felt that way as well.  They made a few moves that directly focused on the needs of the team.  Since then, the Mavericks have looked like a completely different squad.  They came into tonight's game winners of three in a row, their penalty kill has been among the best in the league over the last ten games, and the play of goaltenders Charlie Effinger and Gerry Festa have not only put this team back in the playoff hunt, but have also made this team into a serious contender. 

Tulsa was back in town, looking to bounce back from a 4-3 shootout loss to the Mavs on Tuesday night.  The Oilers held a two point lead over the Mavericks for the fifth and final playoff spot in the Northern Conference.  The Mavs could not afford to let the Oilers strengthen their grip on that coveted spot, so this game was pivotal for the Mavs playoff hopes.  The Oilers didn't take long to show the Mavs that they meant business.  The Oilers put together a good offensive rush, capped when Tulsa defender Derek Eastman unleashed a slapshot from the point.  Festa appeared to make the stop, pinning the pick in his pads, but before the officials could blow the whistle, the puck squirted through Festa's pads and sat in the crease behind him.  Festa finally realized that he didn't have the puck, but before he could pounce on it, Oiler forward (and former Kansas City Blade) David Beauregard pushed the puck into the open net to put the Oilers up 1-0.  That would be the only mistake Festa would make, in what would be another stellar performance by the Mavs netminder.  The rest of the 1st period was pretty sloppy, with both teams having a lot of trouble gaining any kind of momentum.  The Oilers looked like they would take their one goal lead into the first intermission, but an offsides call with less than ten seconds left in the period would bring a faceoff down into the Tulsa zone.  Mavs forward Braden Walls would take advantage of a loose puck in the crease of Oilers goalie Marty Magers, when he stuffed it home for his fifth goal of the season with only five seconds left on the clock.

The hitting started to pick up in the second period between these two rivals, but both sides did their best to keep their composure.  Powerplays for both sides would not result in any scoring, but all the penalties would be a sign of things to come.  The Mavericks would tally the only goal of the period.  Mavs forward Brett Hammond deflected a shot off the stick of Mike Harr to beat Magers with less than two minutes to go in the period.  The Mavs would take their 2-1 lead into the final session.

There were three things to take away from the final period of play in this game:  the great play by Festa, the Mavericks dominated the gameplay, and penalties.  There were lots and lots of penalties.  The final tally for combined penalty minutes in the game was an eye-popping 121 PIM, with 101 of those minutes coming in the third period.  Oiler forward Thomas Harrison was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, when he shouted something towards the Mavs bench.  This would not be the last Harrison was heard from.  On the ensuing powerplay, Jeff MacDermid extended the Mavs lead with his 19th goal of the season.  Later in the period, Harrison would level Mavs forward Karl Sellan after a whistle, leading to a 5-minute major for elbowing, and a game misconduct.  It was a scary moment, as Sellan laid motionless on the ice for a few minutes.  He eventually would get up on his own power, and return to the bench.  Sellan would get the last laugh, as he registered an empty-net goal in the final seconds of play. 

The Mavs would go on to win the game by a final score of 4-1, but the fireworks would not end with the final whistle.  Mavs enforcers Carlyle Lewis and Karl Sellan dropped the gloves against Oilers Derek Merlini and Adam Bartholomay as the two teams skated towards the locker rooms.  Whether it was revenge for the earlier hit on Sellan, or the Mavericks reiterating the domination they displayed tonight, Tulsa took their beatings and headed back to Oklahoma with their tails between their legs.

Game Notes:

- The Mavs are now tied with Tulsa for the final playoff spot in the Northern Conference

- Jeff MacDermid was awarded the 1st Star of the Game, Festa the 2nd Star, and Hammond the 3rd Star

- The Mavericks' 4 game winning streak is the longest of the season for the team

- The Mavericks outshot Tulsa 50-22.  The 50 shots by the Mavs set a new team record

- Three former Oilers suited up for the Mavs tonight.  Jeff Christian, Todd Paul, and Tom Maldonado have all played for Tulsa

- MacDermid's 19th goal is second on the team, trailing only Jeff Christian who has 26.  It was also MacDermid's 12th powerplay goal of the season, which is the third highest in the league.

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