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Kolesar, Pirri Help Wolves Soar over Griffins

Rookie Keegan Kolesar netted his first two AHL goals and veteran Brandon Pirri collected two goals as the Chicago Wolves won their third consecutive game at Van Andel Arena Wednesday night. The win allowed the Wolves to claim the season series with the Griffins for the first time since the 2011-12 campaign.

Center Beau Bennett (G, 2A) and Pirri (2G, A) each earned three points while Kolesar (2G) and T.J. Tynan (2A) picked up a pair of points. Defenseman Zac Leslie and former Griffin Teemu Pulkkinen each registered an assist as the Wolves snapped the Griffins’ 11-game point streak and jumped into second place in the Central Division.

While on the power play, the Wolves (27-17-6-2) drew first blood at 7:25 of the opening frame. Pulkkinen faked a shot from the right point that he passed kitty-corner across the offensive zone to Bennett, who leaned into a shot that flew between Tom McCollum (8-9-3) and the near post for the 1-0 lead.

Chicago doubled its lead 4:37 into the second period when Kolesar netted his first AHL goal. McCollum made the initial save on a Tynan shot, but gave up a rebound that Kolesar poked in for the Wolves’ second goal.

The Wolves took a 3-0 lead just 1:14 later — again on the power play — as Tynan won a faceoff in the left offensive circle to Pirri set up in the slot for a quick shot. That goal chased McCollum 5:51 into the second period and Matej Machovsky replaced him for his AHL debut.

With just over two minutes to play in the second session, Evgeny Svechnikov in the right corner dished a pass to Eric Tangradi speeding up the slot for a one-timer to cut Chicago’s lead to 3-1.

Just 19 seconds into the third period, the Wolves extended their lead to 4-1. Bennett spied Pirri with open space in the slot and fired a pass that Pirri, standing on Machovsky’s doorstep, redirected for Chicago’s third power-play goal in as many attempts.

The Griffins (28-19-1-6) wouldn’t quit and, with 4:40 to play in the third on the man advantage, Ben Street released a shot from low in the left circle that found its way past Oscar Dansk (3-0-1) to make it 4-2 Wolves.

The Wolves clinched it with 1:48 to play as Kolesar, deep in the offensive corner, ought off several Griffins defenders to score his second goal of the night — this time into an empty net — for the 5-2 final.

Dansk recorded a career-high-tying 39 saves for his third victory in as many starts. McCollum made 16 saves and earned the loss while Machovsky gave up one goal on 15 shots.

The Wolves continue road action on Saturday, Feb. 24, and Sunday, Feb. 25, in Winnipeg against the Central Division-leading Manitoba Moose. Puck drop for both games is set for 2 p.m. and the games will stream on AHLLive.com.