HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. -- Tyler Murovich's shorthanded goal in the third was the difference Friday night, as the Gwinnett Gladiators topped the Chicago Express 4-3 at the Sears Centre. The win keeps Gwinnett (28-13-7-4) in first in the South Division.
Forward Bryan Brutlag won a footrace to a loose puck in the Express (22-20-6-2) zone, stopped, and found Murovich all alone in front. The Gladiators forward then slid a shot past Chicago goaltender Peter Mannino at 12:42 for his second goal of the game to push Gwinnett's lead to 4-2.
Maxime Gratchev kept Chicago within reach with a marker on the power play at 13:48, but the Gladiators held on despite being outshot 35-17.
Joe Palmer turned aside 32 shots for the win, while Mannino was saddled with the loss. Gwinnett finished 2-for-5 on the man advantage while Chicago went 2-for-8.
Chicago outshot Gwinnett 12-3 through a scoreless first period, but the Gladiators managed to kill off four penalties to stay even through 20 minutes.
In the second period, both slumbering offenses finally came to life with three goals in the span of 45 seconds. Murovich opened the scoring at 14:07 on the power play, rifling a wrist shot from the low slot past Mannino to put the Gladiators up 1-0. Just 11 seconds later Nikita Kashirsky cashed in on a loose puck in the crease to push the lead to 2-0 with Riley Boychuk assisting. The wild minute was capped by an Evan Stephens power play marker for the Express at 14:52, leaving the score at 2-1 into the third.
Pierre-Luc Faubert kicked off the third with his 15th goal of the season just 46 seconds in to tie the game at two, but Gwinnett answered at 4:39. Defenseman Brad Miller put a shot from the point past a screened Mannino on the power play, as Jonathan Parker and Shawn Szydlowski picked their first points as Gladiators with the assists.
Gwinnett is back in action Saturday night in Kalamazoo at 7:30 p.m. as they take on the Wings.