With 1:15 left in the third period, Morgan Rielly circled in the Prince Albert Raiders zone waiting for an opening before firing his shot through traffic and off of the cross bar. With the sound of puck on metal still in the air, the Moose Jaw Warriors defenceman looked skyward.
Right now the margin between victory and defeat for the Warriors is that thin.
Wednesday, the Warriors skated to a 3-2 loss to the Raiders in their final home game in 16 days. Their record drops to 8-10-3-3 and they will face Edmonton Friday (8 p.m., Sportsnset) to begin their seven-game road trip.
Six of the Warriors’ last nine games have been decided by a goal — four of those coming in overtime or a shootout — and the Warriors have been on the losing end of all of them.
“We have to score more goals,” said Warriors head coach Mike Stothers. “You have to bury the chances you get. Sometimes you don’t get that many, but you have to bury the chances you get. They didn’t have that many chances, but the ones they had, they put them in.
“It’s a matter of bearing down in front of the net and — again — there’s a price to pay to score goals. You can’t just breeze through. You have to stop and continue to whack until it goes in.”
The Warriors failed to bury some chances in close, but were also stopped twice on breakaways by Raiders goalie Luke Siemens. The former Warrior netminder stopped Rielly on a short-handed partial breakaway in the second and made a nice blocker save on Justin Kirsch in the third period when he was in clean.
Jordan Messier tied the game for the Warriors 45 seconds into the third period when he and Tanner Eberle banged away at a loose puck.
The Raiders scored the winning goal when Mark McNeill was able to get to band home a rebound off of a Dakota Conroy shot off a two-on-two rush.
“It was a close game, but we made it close by not playing our best game,” said Warriors captain Kendall McFaull. “We had a lot of turnovers and that cost us the game. We didn’t get pucks deep and gave up too many odd-man rushes.”
The Raiders grabbed a 2-0 lead in the second period. Chance Braid scored on a backhand before defenceman Sawyer Lange scored on a hard one-timer. Lange had a hit the crossbar minutes earlier.
Warriors goalie Justin Paulic made some big saves to keep the game scoreless. He sprawled to stop Mark McNeill with the paddle of his stick at the side of the net. He later robbed Leon Draisaitl on a power play wraparound attempt.
The Warriors got on the board late in the second period when Brayden Point drew a crowd on the power play and fed Sam Fioretti at the side of the net for his 16th goal of the season.
The Warriors received a scare late in the second period when Rielly went into the boards awkwardly and came up favouring his left leg. Rielly finished the game and early reports post-game as that he would be fine.