BY STEPHEN LYNCH Special to The Californian
The Bakersfield Condors' quest to move up from sixth to fifth place in the ECHL Western Conference standings before the playoffs begin received another positive boost.
The Condors rallied from a 1-0 deficit to beat the Las Vegas Wranglers 2-1 in a shootout in front of an announced crowd of 5,238 Saturday night at Rabobank Arena.
Bakersfield's Jordan Knackstedt, Joel Broda and Eric Burgdoerfer each found the back of the net in the shootout while Condors goalie Laurent Brossoit stopped three of four Las Vegas attempts.
Burgdoerfer clinched the dramatic win, the Condors' sixth in seven games against the Wranglers with his score. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound defenseman used a beautiful fake to create an opening to get the puck past Wranglers goalie Mitch O'Keefe, who was playing in his first game since Feb. 25.
Las Vegas finished with 27 shots on goal. Bakersfield had 22.
The third period featured lots of action but no goals. The Condors narrowly missed finding the back of the net several times late in regulation.
Both teams scored a goal in the second period and were tied 1-1 heading to the final 20-minute segment.
The Wranglers struck first with 12:18 to go in the period on Shawn Skelley's 12th goal of the season. The former Condors player slotted the puck just underneath the crossbar from the bottom of the left circle with 11 seconds left on a five-on-three advantage for Las Vegas.
Skelley's score snapped the Condors streak of six straight games without allowing a power-play goal.
Bakersfield drew even with 4:05 remaining in the second period. After the Condors successfully battled to hold the puck in their own attacking zone, Knackstedt took Broda's pass from behind the goal and quickly snapped a shot into the back of the net.
Overall, Las Vegas was one of five five on the power play. The Condors didn't have any power play opportunities.
Las Vegas outshot Bakersfield 10-7 during a scoreless first period. The Condors' best scoring opportunity of the frame came with just over three minutes remaining when Chase Schaber got a clean look at the net while on a two-on-one breakaway and fired a hard wrist-shot that deflected off the crossbar.
The only penalty of the opening period was a two minute slashing call on Burgdoerfer with 1:27 left.
The Condors and Wranglers meet again today at Rabobank Arena. The puck is set to drop at 4 p.m.