Updated: May 15, 2013 7:18AM
Shaky Charlotte Checkers goalie John Muse seemed like the perfect opponent to help the Wolves keep pace in the hotly contested Western Conference playoff race.
The Wolves, however, struggled to score, and it looked as if the opportunity had slipped away, but they rallied with a relentless third-period effort that was applauded by coach Scott Arniel and won 2-1 in a shootout.
Darren Haydar, Brett Sterling and Jon Matsumoto scored in the shootout, which the Wolves won 3-2.
Muse entered with a 3.43 goals-against average and an .882 save percentage, but the Wolves were unable to score until Jordan Schroeder redirected a Yann Sauve shot/pass at 5:31 in the third period.
With the victory, the Wolves are two points behind the Rockford IceHogs, who hold the eighth and final playoff spot. But the Wolves have two games in hand and have two games left against the Milwaukee Admirals, who are tied with the Wolves.
“This is a big boost for us,” Arniel said. “That’s the first time we’ve come back in the third period to win a hockey game, which is big, especially this time of year.
‘‘We played hard all night long. We had a lot of chances; give their goaltender credit.”
The Wolves failed to score on all six of their power plays, most notably in overtime. They went on the power play at the 1:42 mark in OT.
After a scoreless first period, the Checkers finally broke through when right wing Matt Beca scored at 17:05 in the second.
Wolves goalie Matt Climie appeared to be in position to stop a slap shot by Checkers center Brett Sutter, but Beca redirected the puck.