Friday, Nov. 24 | 7:00 p.m. | UWM Panther Arena

PIRRI THEORY

While the Chicago Wolves are searching for victories, center Brandon Pirri continues to average a point per game. Through his 10 games, Pirri has been held scoreless twice and his 37 shots rank third on the team. Pirri’s scoring pace comes as no surprise as during his last American Hockey League stint, he averaged a point per game through 26 games with the Rockford IceHogs in 2013-14. The Toronto native finished the 2012-13 campaign as the AHL’s leading point-getter with 75 points (22G, 53A) through 76 games. At the National Hockey League level, Pirri finished second in goal-scoring for the Florida Panthers with 22 goals in his first full season (2014-15).

DEFENSIVE DECLINE

This season, the Chicago Wolves defensive corps hasn’t provided much support on the offensive front. Through 16 games, the Wolves have only accrued 108 points — 41 goals and 67 assists — which is 13 points off last season’s scoring pace through 16 games. During the 2016-17 campaign, the Wolves defense accounted for 29.8 percent of team scoring while this season’s blueliners have provided just 24.1 percent of the team scoring. It’s an exact 10-point difference — 26 to 36 — between this year and last. The Wolves blue line was so potent in 2016-17 that the club’s — and American Hockey League’s— leading scorer was defenseman Brad Hunt for nearly the first quarter of the season.

SLAY THE DRAGON

The Chicago Wolves already have beaten the Milwaukee Admirals once this season. However, the Admirals have bested the Wolves in the last two meetings between the clubs and lead the season series 2-1-0-0. Twice Milwaukee has managed to net three goals in a single period against the Wolves, a season-high for a Chicago opponent. The Admirals also held the Wolves to a season-low 23 shots in the game on Oct. 28 — yet the Wolves managed to earn a W in that contest. In the teams’ next two meetings, the Wolves put up 29 shots but could not earn a win. Milwaukee also handed the Wolves their largest margin of defeat this season in a 3-0 shutout on Nov. 8.

MORE PEP IN THE FIRST STEP

The first period has not been the Chicago Wolves’ strongest. Through 16 contests, the Wolves have been outscored 20-11 while the third period is just a one-goal deficit (16-15). Three times — including once against tonight’s opponent — the Wolves have given up three goals in the first period. Though Chicago isn’t putting pucks in the net in the opening frame, it isn’t for a lack of shots. In the first period, the Wolves have outshot opponents 184-152.

By the Numbers:

  • 5: On Tuesday, veteran goaltender Michael Leighton became the fifth netminder to join the Chicago Wolves roster this season. The American Hockey League’s all-time shutouts leader with 49, Leighton brings 14 years of AHL experience and time spent in the National Hockey League — including games during the 2010 Stanley Cup Final. Prior to Leighton, 25-year-old C.J. Motte was the most recent arrival. He appeared in three games for the Wolves but was released from his professional tryout contract with the loan of Leighton from the Arizona Coyotes (NHL). Oscar Dansk, Kasimir Kaskisuo and Max Lagace have also appeared between the pipes for Chicago this season. Dansk and Lagace were recalled from loan early this season due to injuries to two Vegas Golden Knights goaltenders. Kaskisuo has backstopped the Wolves for eight games this season.
  • 9: The Chicago Wolves’ franchise record for losses stands at nine games — twice reached — with the most recent string from Dec. 15, 2015, to Jan. 12, 2016. The Wolves are two games shy of matching that record, but tonight the team is looking to turn the tides against a team they already have beaten once this season on Oct. 28. The Admirals hold a 2-1-0-0 advantage through the first three games of the 12-contest season series. However, the Wolves beat the Admirals once this season — in the first game of the series — so they will look to do it again to snap a winless streak and set sail up the Central Division standings.
  • 10.2: During November, the Chicago Wolves are just four for 39 on the power play, converting only 10.2 percent of the time. Conversely, through the first month of the season — eight games in October — Chicago’s power play was successful 22.5 percent of the time and scored nine goals. In the Wolves’ last five games, they have netted four tallies on the power play. That’s a significant improvement following a 14-period stretch — across six games — in which the Wolves were held scoreless on the man advantage. Overall, the Wolves have a 16.7 percent success rate on the power play with 13 goals.
  • 85.3: The Chicago Wolves’ penalty killing has dipped slightly during the month of November. Since Nov. 3, the Wolves have killed 29 of 34 opponent power plays for a 85.3 percent kill rate. That’s a 3.6 percentage point decrease from October when the team only allowed opponents to score four times with the man advantage for a 88.9 percent kill rate. Early in the season, the Wolves led the entire American Hockey League with the best penalty kill. Now, the club is still a top-three unit and owns an 87.1 percent success rate through 16 contests.

Game Review

Tuesday, Nov. 21 Texas 2, (at) Chicago 1 (OT)

  • The Wolves earned another point as they fell to the Stars in overtime.
  • Center Brandon Pirri netted Chicago’s lone goal of the game — the 1-1 equalizer — on the power play at 8:13 of the third period.
  • Stars center Jason Dickinson collected the game-winning tally just 21 seconds into the extra frame.
  • Goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo made 18 saves in the loss.

Sunday, Nov. 19 (at) RFD 4, CHI 3 (SO)

  • The Wolves rallied in the third period to force overtime, but fell to Rockford during the shootout in the first Illinois Lottery Cup contest.
  • Defenseman Jake Walman netted his first goal of the season and captain Paul Thompson scored on a short-handed breakaway in the final seven minutes of regulation.
  • Center Ivan Barbashev collected Chicago’s first goal in the first period.
  • Goaltender C.J. Motte made 36 saves in the loss.