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Wolves Don’t Clinch Playoff Spot in Iowa

Kyle Rau netted two goals to help propel the Iowa Wild to a 7-3 victory against the Chicago Wolves on Friday night at Wells Fargo Arena.

Despite the loss, the Wolves (38-22-7-4) continue to lead the Central Division by an extremely slim margin and their magic number to clinch a spot in the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs remains at 2.

Forwards Stefan Matteau, Teemu Pulkkinen and Beau Bennett scored for Chicago while goaltenders Oscar Dansk and Max Lagace (13-6-2) both spent time in net.

The Wild (31-26-9-6) opened scoring just 3:36 into the game as Zack Mitchell snuck a shot past Lagace.

However, less than two minutes later, Chicago was on the rush and Bennett put a shot on net that Steve Michalek (12-7-6) stopped. Matteau was the trailing skater and tapped home the rebound for the 1-1 equalizer.

Iowa came right back and regained a 2-1 lead at 7:40 of the period. Former Chicago Wolves captain Pat Cannone set up Alex Grant for a blast that beat Lagace for the go-ahead goal.

Just 2:48 later, Sam Anas gave the Wild a 3-1 lead and Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson elected to relieve Lagace — he gave up three goals on nine shots — and put Dansk in net.

Iowa waited just 1:31 into Dansk’ tenure between the pipes to score again. AHL newcomer Mark Auk whizzed up the left wing and whipped a shot top-shelf for his first goal in his professional debut.

With 1:10 to go in the first frame and the Wild skating on the power play, Gerald Mayhew scored the team’s fifth goal of the game.

Ten seconds into the second period, Pulkkinen rushed up ice and lasered a shot over Michalek’s shoulder to cut Iowa’s lead to 5-2.

Iowa regained a five-goal lead at 8:05 when Rau scored on the power play.

From the blue line — with exactly two minutes to play in the second period — Bennett sent a blistering shot behind Michalek for his 12th goal of the season and the Wolves’ third of the game.

At 9:21 of the third period, Rau netted his second goal of the game from the top of the slot for the 7-3 score.

Lagace — who re-entered the game to begin the second period and stayed for the remainder — made 17 saves while Dansk made one in 10:12 of playing time.

Michalek made 27 saves in the victory.

The Wolves are back in action Saturday, April 7, as they host the Milwaukee Admirals for the final time at Allstate Arena this season. Game time is 7 p.m., and the game will be televised on CW50.