ROSEMONT, Ill – May 2nd brought with it game two of the opening round match up between the Chicago Wolves, who were looking to double their series lead, and the Iowa Wild, who wanted to steal one game before returning home.
Unfortunately for the Wild, they once again had to contend with the likes of Daniel Carr and Brooks Macek. It took this duo just 1:29 of game time to combine for the opening goal, with Macek potting the rebound off the shot from Griffin Reinhart to make it 1-0 for the home team. Carr had the secondary assist.
Matthew Weis, the center for the Carr and Macek line, scored his first professional postseason goal at 4:42 to double the lead for the Wolves thanks to a beautiful feed by Stefan Matteau.
After netminder Oscar Dansk spoiled an earlier Wild chance, they were able to convert on the power play. Yet again, it was Gerald Mayhew causing mayhem in favor of the visitors on the shot from the front of the net, halving the Wolves’ lead.
Tye McGinn did his best to bail out Dansk when Luke Kunin tied the game with 2:10 left in the opening period, but the ref signaled that the puck had crossed the goal line prior to McGinn throwing the puck out. The teams would enter the first intermission in a 2-2 lock, or so it seemed.
Zach Whitecloud thought differently when he was able to pot the sly pass from Macek past Wild netminder Andrew Hammond for the go-ahead goal, and the Wolves did not look back. Carr recorded his fourth playoff point with the secondary assist on Whitecloud’s goal.
Not to be outdone by Macek and Carr, Matteau recorded his second helper of the night off a crisp pass to Tobias Lindberg on the odd-man rush. The scoreboard now read 4-2 in favor of the maroon team.
T.J. Tynan showed why Chicago has been so successful on the penalty kill the past few months after handily killing off two minutes almost all by himself.
Just like game one, however, the Wolves pulled their foot off the gas with a little time remaining in a frame. Kunin recorded his second of the game to pull his team within one with 57 seconds left on the scoreboard.
Though the Wild dominated the third period of play, outshooting Chicago 11-4, and 7-1 at one point, they were unable to force overtime for the second night in a row. Chicago’s defenders sacrificed every inch of their body during the barrage from Iowa beginning with 2:30 left on the clock, and even shots with six attackers on the ice failed to reach Dansk. While the Wolves were unable to fully counter the Wild’s momentum, they were able to bail out Dansk from potential trouble, returning the favor after his game one performance.
The buzzer sounded and the Wolves found themselves winning their second game of the month, and of the playoff series, by a score of 4-3. With the series shifting to Des Moines for the next two, or three games if needed, taking the first two at home was imperative to begin the series.
Dansk finished with 22 saves in the win; 11 of those came in the third period. As for Hammond, Chicago has finally shown the netminder is not kryptonite for the Wolves like he was in the regular season.
The Wolves continue to get scoring contributions from all lines, which will continue to be important as Chicago’s run extends. Contributions from Lindberg, Weis, Macek and Whitecloud on the score sheet – not to mention Matteau’s assists – is indicative of a more balanced scoring threat for the Wolves. This is going to continue to challenge the Wild if it is sustained. Meanwhile, just Kunin and Mayhew have scored for the Wild at all, combining for all five of the team’s goals so far.
Game three is Sunday, May 5th in Des Moines, Iowa slated for 3 p.m. The Wolves are not home again until game six, which would be Tuesday, May 13th if necessary.