TALE OF THE TAPE: FEB. 28
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Sunday, Feb. 28, 3:00 p.m. Van Andel Arena
The Chicago Wolves’ week didn’t start well. Grand Rapids came to Allstate Arena on Tuesday morning for a School-Day Game and knocked off the Wolves 5-0. Then Chicago traveled to Milwaukee on Friday night and suffered a 4-1 defeat to drop the team below .500 for the first time this season.
The Wolves had to wait just 24 hours for another chance against Milwaukee — and they took advantage with a 2-1 victory Saturday night at Allstate Arena. New forward JUSTIN CRANDALL, who signed with the Wolves on Friday morning, scored the game-winning goal in his second American Hockey League game.
Now the Wolves get a chance to make amends for Tuesday’s loss to the Griffins. This is the team’s first trip to Van Andel Arena since Jan. 17, when a short-handed Wolves squad picked up three ECHL players overnight and claimed a 4-3 overtime victory as captain PAT CANNONE delivered a hat trick.
With 21 games remaining, the Wolves are trying to leap back into the Calder Cup playoff picture. Grand Rapids holds the fourth and final Central Division spot with a .611 points percentage, but the fourth-place team in the Pacific Division (San Jose) sits at .550. The Wolves and the Barracuda have earned the same number of points (55), but San Jose has played five fewer games and have just 18 to go.
By The Numbers
3: The Wolves are closing out their third three-in-three stretch of the season. The team went 0-3-0-0 during the first one, 2-1-0-0 in the second and stand 1-1-0-0 in the third. Their fourth and final three-in-three occurs March 18-20.
.778: Don’t test the Wolves on the Sabbath. Chicago boasts a 7-2-0-0 record this season when playing on Sunday. Today’s game marks the third of six consecutive Sundays on the ice for the Wolves — and they’re done with Sunday games after March 20.
Follow The Action
Today’s game begins at 7:00 p.m. and can be streamed on www.ahllive.com. Those away from a TV or computer can follow @Chicago_Wolves or @ChiWolvesLive on Twitter for live in-game play-by-play.
Team Record: 32-20-1-0
Last Game: 3-0 W vs Iowa (Feb. 27)
2015-16 Season Series: 3-0-1-0
Last Meeting: 5-0 Road Win (Feb. 23)
Team Record: 25-25-3-2
Last Game: 2-1 W vs Milwaukee (Feb. 27)
2015-16 Season Series: 1-3-0-0
Last Meeting: 5-0 Home Loss (Feb. 23)
Center PAT CANNONE continues to be the team’s weathervane. When the captain scores, you know which way the game will turn out for the Wolves.
The 29-year-old from Bayport, N.Y., collected his professional career-high 20th goal on Saturday. It came at a big time as Milwaukee opened the scoring 14 seconds into the second period, but CANNONE answered 1:46 later.
The Wolves captain leads the team in seven offensive categories: goals (20), assists (24), points (44), plus/minus rating (+12), power-play goals (5-tied), game- winning goals (5) and shooting percentage (18.2).
The Wolves are 13-1-0-1 (.900) this season when CANNONE scores a goal and 12-24-3-1 (.350) when he does not.
Rookie defenseman Robbie Russo’s first year pro is going swimmingly.
Russo began Saturday night with an AHL-best plus-34 rating, and he added another to his count during the first period against Iowa. Taking a pass from Martin Frk at the point, he skated several strides to his left before unleashing a shot low to the ice that snuck through Steve Michalek’s five hole.
Now with a plus-35 rating, Russo is stalking the best single-season performances in that category in franchise history. Only five players have finished a season with a higher mark, ranging from current head coach Todd Nelson’s fifth-best plus-36 mark as a defenseman in 1999-2000 to Ivan Ciernik’s franchise-record plus-41 rating the following season.