An undisciplined penalty midway through the third period gave the Rapid City Rush the opening they needed.
After the Wichita Thunder's Jacob Graves was called for high-sticking, a shot by David Quenneville off the blue line was deflected into the net by Tyler Coulter at 11:12 to score the go-ahead goal 24 seconds into the power play.
The Rush drained the clock from there, ticking time away in regulation with the help of two more penalties, and snapped their six-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the Western Conference's top team.
Despite the victory, Rapid City (30-28-4) failed to close the gap on the Utah Grizzlies (29-21-11), as the Grizzlies earned a 2-1 overtime win over the Tulsa Oilers. The Rush trail the Grizzlies by 0.050 percentage points for the fourth and final playoff spot.
Less than two minutes into the contest, Rapid City was on the board. Cedric Montminy snapped in a rebound off a Johnny Coughlin shot from the left side on an offensive zone entry at 1:59. The Rush then made it 2-0 when Avery Peterson handled a rebound off a Peter Quenneville one-timer and rifled back the power-play goal at 10:23 of the first period.
Wichita (38-17-8) battled back, however, and tallied its first goal at 10:13 of the middle frame, scored by Stefan Fournier. Beau Starrett then leveled the contest when notched a goal at 15:43 to make it 2-2 heading into the third period, where Coulter's 21st goal of the season served as the eventual game-winner
Coulter and David Quenneville finished with two points each, while Hunter Garlent added an assist. Dave Tendeck got the start in net and made 31 saves in the winning effort. First-string goalie Adam Carlson was placed on reserve ahead of the game and Brad Barone was activated.
The Rush and Thunder will meet for the final time this season in the series rubber match on Sunday. Puckdrop is 3:05 p.m.