Thursday, March 22, 2018 | 6:00 p.m. | Quicken Loans Arena
The Chicago Wolves enter Thursday’s season-series finale against the Cleveland Monsters looking for their seventh consecutive victory over their Ohio foe. If the Wolves can accomplish the feat, they would match their series-best win streak set from March 17, 2012 to Dec. 27, 2013. A win would also set the Wolves up to continue toward matching their franchise-best 10-game win streak against an opponent. They’ve twice accomplished the feat, but it most recently happened 13 years ago against the San Antonio Rampage from March 31, 2004 to Jan 8, 2005.
The Chicago Wolves’ 6-1-0-0 record for .857 points percentage against the Cleveland Monsters is their best against a Central Division opponent this season. The worst Chicago can finish the season series with is a .750 points percentage and that is still its best against an Central Division enemy during the 2017-18 campaign. Of course, the Wolves do have a few more games against other rivals — 11 of their final dozen games are Central showdowns — in which they could better those series records. However, the best the Wolves could finish with versus Grand Rapids (1 gm remaining), Milwaukee (3) and Rockford (3) is a .750 points percentage — that’s if the Wolves can win all their remaining contests against those opponents.
The 24-year-old Oscar Dansk returned to the NHL as the Vegas Golden Knights recalled him from loan on an emergency basis on Wednesday. The transaction came on the heels of an undisclosed injury to their No. 1 netminder, veteran Marc-Andre Fleury. In Vegas’ March 20 game against the Vancouver Canucks, Fleury left the game after the first period and did not return — Malcolm Subban finished the 4-1 victory. Dansk was out of commission from Oct. 30 (when he was injured playing for Vegas) until he returned to the Wolves crease on Feb. 15. Since February, Dansk has backstopped the Wolves for 10 games and compiled a 8-1-1 record. He did not suffer a regulation loss until March 17 versus the Rockford IceHogs. Additionally, Dansk earned his first AHL shutout (March 2) and his first North American pro point, an assist (March 9), during his latest stint with Chicago. He also accrued a seven-game winning streak from Feb. 15 to March 9.
Ol’ Reliable Between the Pipes
Goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo has not seen game action since March 11 against the Manitoba Moose. However, the 24-year-old Finn has been a workhorse for the Wolves in the crease this season. Since his arrival to the team on Oct. 23, Kaskisuo has appeared in 28 games — the most of any Wolves goaltender this season — and compiled a 13-13-2 record. Aside from C.J. Motte, who only appeared in three games, Kaskisuo leads all Wolves netminders with a 2.33 goals-against average and .916 save percentage — though he and Oscar Dansk share the save-percentage crown.
By the Numbers:
- 9: Forward Teemu Pulkkinen is heating up and owns 9 points (4G, 5A) through nine games in the month of March. The feat is the 26-year-old’s best showing since October when he racked up 13 points (6G, 7A) in eight games. In March, the native of Finland has appeared in nine games and is averaging 1 point per game. With five games remaining in the month, Pulkkinen has a chance to record his most points in a month and highest points-per-game average of the season. The last time Chicago competed in 14 games during a month — December — Pulkkinen only registered six points (2G, 4A) and recorded his lowest points-per-game average at 0.43.
- 25: Center Brandon Pirri owns 25 goals, which marks the highest total of his professional career. Prior to this season, Pirri once recorded 23 goals and twice registered 22 markers. The first of his 22-goal campaigns came during the 2012-13 season he captured the John B. Sollenberger Trophy as the AHL’s leading point-getter with 75. Two seasons later, Pirri finished second in team goal-scoring for the NHL’s Florida Panthers with 22 tallies. Those markers also aided him in recording back-to-back 24-point seasons with Florida. The Toronto native has held fast among the league’s top 10 goal-scorers — he resides in the No. 8 spot but only two goals separate him and the AHL’s No. 2 goal-scorers. Pirri is the Wolves’ only 20-goal scorer — Teemu Pulkkinen is one tally shy of joining the club.
- 33: Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime victory over the Cleveland Monsters marked the Chicago Wolves’ 33rd one-goal game of the 2017-18 season. While the Wolves have moved into the position with the third-most one-goal games among the 30 AHL teams, they are still, technically, outside the top five on the leaderboard. The Utica Comets lead the league with 35 contests while the Iowa Wild have competed in 34 single-tally games. The Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Wolves, Hartford WolfPack and Texas Stars all own 33 games. However, Chicago owns the fewest one goal wins of those four teams, which drops them sixth in the one-goal-game standings. Bridgeport leads the group with 19 victories and Hartford is right behind with 18. Bridgeport is one victory better than the Wolves with 15.
- 55: On Tuesday, center T.J. Tynan picked up his 13th goal of the season to improve to 55 points on the season. The goal — an overtime game-winner — matched the 26-year-old’s career-high for goals that he set as a rookie with the Springfield Falcons in the 2014-15 season. Tynan already set a new career-high with 42 assists (two better than his previous) and blew by his previous career-high in points — he is already seven points better than his former best. As one of two Wolves players — the other being captain Paul Thompson — to skate in every game this season, Tynan is on pace to appear in his 300th AHL contest and earn his 200th AHL point this season — he only needs 10 more in each category.
- 100: Forward Stefan Matteau collected his 100th AHL point on Tuesday with his 51st goal. The milestone comes on the heels of him collecting his 50th AHL goal in the Chicago Wolves’ previous game on March 18. Matteau improved his professional point totals to 54 goals and 53 assists for 107 points that span both AHL and NHL play. The Chicago native’s 14 goals this season have tied him with Tomas Hyka for the No. 5 rank in goal-scoring among Wolves players. His goals in back-to-back games marks the first time he has completed that feat since Jan. 27 and Feb. 2 when he collected four goals in two games, including his first career hat trick in the latter contest against the Milwaukee Admirals.
- The Wolves extended their series win streak against the Monsters to six games.
- Center T.J. Tynan netted the game-winning goal 1:05 into overtime.
- Forwards Stefan Matteau and Wade Megan accounted for Chicago’s regulation goals.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk made 19 saves for the victory.
- Chicago avoided a three-game skid in the season series against Iowa.
- Forward Teemu Pulkkinen accounted for two goals and earned three points while Beau Bennett and Zac Leslie collect three assists apiece.
- Forwards Tomas Hyka, Keegan Kolesar and Stefan Matteau and defenseman Jason Garrison all contributed a goal and assist for two points each.
- Center Tobias Lindberg accounted for Chicago’s seventh marker.
- In his first appearance since Feb. 9, Max Lagace made 25 saves in the win.
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March 20, 2018
|12/08/2017||Quicken Loans Arena||L, 3-2|
|12/09/2017||Quicken Loans Arena||W, 3-0|
|01/03/2018||Allstate Arena||W, 5-3|
|01/21/2018||Allstate Arena||W, 3-1|
|02/15/2018||Allstate Arena||W, 4-3|
|02/18/2017||Allstate Arena||W, 5-3|
|03/20/2018||Quicken Loans Arena||W, 3-2|
|03/22/2018||Quicken Loans Arena|