SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Oscar Dansk stole the show as the Chicago Wolves downed the San Antonio Rampage 3-0 Friday night at AT&T Center.
The first period was a goaltending clinic put on by the Wolves netminder and Rampage netminder Ville Husso. Both traded off saves and kept the opposing teams scoreless through the opening frame.
Husso did not get any help from his own team as they left him to deal with a 5-on-3 penalty kill at 9:38 of the second. The Wolves, who were 14th in the league on the power play entering Friday’s contest, have slowly been improving after being the league’s worst power play in November.
They continued their climb up this ladder during the two-man advantage when Brandon Pirri dished the puck across the front of the crease to T.J. Tynan who one-timed it past Husso. Philip Holm recorded his first point in a Wolves sweater with the secondary assist on Tynan’s 12th goal of the season.
Jake Bischoff, fresh off of taking a minor in each of the first two periods, would give his team the 2-0 lead with 2:05 on the clock in the second. Teemu Pulkkinen broke the puck into the Rampage zone on a 3-on-1, teed up a shot which rebounded off Husso’s pads, and Bischoff rushed in as the fourth Wolves player to fire that one past Husso.
Husso’s teammates left him out to dry with each of the first two goals. A 5-on-3 is always extremely difficult on a goaltender, and while a goalie can potentially make the initial stop on an odd-man rush, it’s the responsibility of the defense to prevent anyone from grabbing a rebound. In no circumstances should a player behind the rush be able to capitalize and score in this scenario.
Husso would head to the bench with two minutes left in regulation, but the Rampage could not solve Dansk for one, let alone two goals.
Jason Garrison notched the empty-netter at 19:32 when his clearing attempt took an odd bounce off the glass, bounced off the far post and into the goal.
Dansk saved all 28 shots he faced en route to recording his first shutout in a Wolves sweater.
Friday was easily the best Dansk has looked at the AHL level all season. When he had such success with the Vegas Golden Knights, those who had seen him play in the AHL were a bit confused, but that Dansk came through tonight. He was confident and calculating, stealing plays to keep his team ahead and to earn the win.
Pulkkinen also had one of his best games in recent memory, playing well in all ends of the ice. He backchecked to stop a shorthanded opportunity and turned around to draw the penalty which resulted in the two-man advantage for Tynan’s goal.
Though Bischoff took two penalties in his first game back from injury, presumably as a bit of a learning curve adjusting back, he pinched in an offensive way not completely common in his game to bury his third of the year. If he can continue this offensive prowess, Bischoff might be in a Golden Knights sweater sooner rather than later.
With the win, the Wolves improve to 30-18-6-2 on the season and jump above the Grand Rapids Griffins for the second spot in the Central Division with three games in hand.
The Wolves are in Austin taking on the Texas Stars Saturday for a 7 p.m. puck drop. As always, be sure to follow @SinBinWolves on Twitter for current news and game updates.