Forward Teemu Pulkkinen scored two goals to lead the Chicago Wolves toppled the Iowa Wild 7-3 Sunday afternoon at Allstate Arena. The two points they earned in the win created a three-point gap between the Wolves and the Wild for second place in the Central Division standings.
Defenseman Jason Garrison and forwards Tomas Hyka, Keegan Kolesar, Tobias Lindberg and Stefan Matteau also scored goals for Chicago (34-20-7-2). In his first game since rejoining the Wolves on March 15, goaltender Max Lagace (12-4-2) made 25 saves to help the Wolves end a three-game losing streak.
“There were lots of chances both ways, but we were able to capitalize on those opportunities,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson. “We scored timely goals tonight. It was a funny game, but important for us to get off the schnied.”
Chicago got on the board first at 6:20 of the first period when Garrison lasered a shot through a crowd for the 1-0 lead.
Just 2:23 later, the Wolves pushed their lead to two goals when Garrison put another shot on net with Hyka screening. The initial shot made it through to Steve Michalek (11-6-5) and ricocheted off the inside of his pad to Kolesar. While diving to corral the rebound, Kolesar pushed the puck into the net for Chicago’s second goal.
The Wolves cashed in on the power play with 3:03 left in the first frame to take a 3-0 lead. Defenseman Philip Holm quarterbacked the play beginning behind the Chicago net. He fed a pass to Pirri at the left boards and carried into the neutral zone. Pirri then zipped a pass across the ice to Pulkkinen, who was already behind the Iowa defense. Pulkkinen finished the breakaway chance with a backhand goal over a sprawling Michalek.
However, the Wild (30-19-9-5) planted a goal with 1:38 to play in the period to cut the Wolves lead to 3-1. Forward Sam Anas dumped the puck behind the Chicago net and goaltender Lagace attempted to clear it around boards. Colton Beck was there, caught the puck and shot it into an open net as Lagace was still hustling back to the crease.
Iowa climbed within a goal, 3-2, less than five minutes into the middle session. Former Wolves captain Pat Cannone wired an shot from the right faceoff dot for the Wild’s second goal.
At 7:15 the Wolves jumped ahead 4-2 when defenseman Zac Leslie (3 assists) whistled a shot from the center point that Pulkkinen, positioned deep in the slot, deflected with his stick.
Lindberg increased Chicago’s lead to 5-2 with 5:58 remaining in the period — the puck took a strange bounce off the end boards and ended up on the left side of the crease for an easy tap-in goal by Lindberg.
Chicago’s sixth goal came with 1:54 to play in the second period while skating with the man advantage for the third time in the contest. Beau Bennett (3 assists) carried the puck behind the Wild net and dished it out front just as Hyka was crashing the net. Hyka managed to chop in the puck with an Iowa defender on his back to make it a 6-2 score.
The Wild answered with their third goal 3:31 into the third period. Carson Soucy took the initial shot from the near the center point and Lagace made the save. However, the rebound came back to Soucy and his shot was tipped by Kyle Rau.
Thirty-one seconds later, the Wolves returned to a four-goal lead when Bennett again pulled the puck from behind the enemy net. He caught Matteau streaking up the slot who went forehead-backhand-forehand around Michalek for Chicago’s seventh goal.
Michalek stopped 19 of 26 shots in the loss.
The Wolves hit the road for a pair of games at Quicken Loans Arena against the Cleveland Monsters. Game 1 is Tuesday, March 20 and Game 2 is Thursday, March 22. Both games are set for 6 p.m. and will stream on AHLLive.com.