CHICAGO WOLVES (11-9-2-1) AT IOWA WILD (13-4-4-2)
The Wolves snapped a five-game winless streak on Wednesday in Des Moines, overcoming a 3-0 deficit to take a 4-3 overtime victory over the Wild. Rookie defenseman Nic Hague tallied two goals, including the winner in extra time, while forward Brandon Pirri added four assists on the night.
Tonight’s game will be the third time this season the Wolves have played a team in back-to-back games — Chicago swept Colorado to open the season on Oct. 5-6 and split a pair of games with Manitoba on Nov. 2-3.
CRANKING UP THE POWER
The Wolves stacked up three power-play goals in Wednesday night’s win — courtesy of Daniel Carr, Nic Hague and Dylan Coghlan — just like they did in their previous game on Sunday against the Texas Stars. If producing three power-play goals in back-to-back games sounds like a big deal, that’s because it is.
This marks the first time in more than 10 years that the Wolves have scored at least three PPGs in consecutive games. On Dec. 27, 2007, against the Rockford IceHogs, Steve Martins, Nathan Oystrick and Brett Sterling delivered power-play goals in a 4-3 overtime win at Allstate Arena. The next night, the Wolves hit the road and earned a 4-3 win at Milwaukee as defenseman Joel Kwaitkowski racked up three consecutive goals — all on the power play — during a nine-minute stretch of the second period.
Forward Curtis McKenzie was on the ice for all three power-play goals that the Wolves scored in regulation on Wednesday, but the vital role he played won’t show up on the stat sheet. McKenzie was posted in front of the crease on each of the three tallies, screening goaltender Kaapo Kahknonen so his teammates could find the twine.
THE D-Men getting offensive
Of the Wolves’ 24 goals in the last seven contests, 10 have come off the stick of a defenseman. Nic Hague has scored three goals, Dylan Coghlan has tabbed two, while Erik Brännström, Jake Bischoff, Zac Leslie, Griffin Reinhart and Zach Whitecloud each have one goal in the span. In the 16 games prior to this spree, the team’s eight blueliners had combined for nine goals.
BY THE NUMBERS
2: The American Hockey League announced Tuesday that Wolves forward Alex Gallant has been suspended for two games for his actions that led to a match penalty during the third period of Sunday’s game against the Texas Stars. Gallant’s penalty came as a result of his decision to defend goaltender Max Lagace after a brief skirmish with a Stars skater. Gallant missed Wednesday’s game against Iowa and will miss tonight’s game as well.
7: In his first game back with the Wolves on loan from the Vegas Golden Knights, forward Daniel Carr picked up his seventh power-play goal (tied for the league lead) and an assist on Wednesday against the Wild. When Carr was recalled by Vegas on Nov. 22, he led the AHL with 22 points on 9 goals and 13 assists.
18: Defenseman Erik Brännström put up two assists in the Wolves’ overtime win on Wednesday against the Wild, moving himself into a tie for fourth among all league rearguards with 18 points (4G, 14A). He also owns five more points than the next-best rookie defenseman, San Antonio’s Mitch Reinke. Brännström is riding a three-game point streak, scoring a goal on Dec. 1 against San Antonio before consecutive two-assist showings on Dec. 2 against Texas and Dec. 5 at Iowa. On Wednesday, the Eksjö native was named to Sweden’s preliminary roster for the 2019 World Junior Championship, taking place Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia.
21.1: Prior to Wednesday’s game, the Wild had given up just four power-play goals all year as the league’s second-best penalty-killing unit. The Wolves came into Des Moines and scored three goals on the man-advantage on Wednesday night, improving the Chicago power play to a conversion rate of 21.1 percent.
30: Brandon Pirri leads the American Hockey League with his 30 points, assisting on each of the four Wolves goals in Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime victory over Iowa. Pirri hadn’t handed out four assists in a game since April 12, 2013, when he produced 1 goal and 5 assists in a Rockford IceHogs’ 7-3 win over the Wolves. Lehigh Valley’s Phil Varone sits in second with 28 points (11G, 17A).
354: If you’ve suited up for the Wolves, chances are better than 50/50 that you’ve also played in the National Hockey League. When goaltender Eddie Pasquale won his NHL debut Tuesday night for the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Detroit Red Wings, he became the 354th player (out of 615 Wolves all-time) who have competed for the Wolves and in the NHL. That 57.6 percent overall success rate is even higher among goaltenders. Of the 54 players who’ve tended the net for the Wolves over the years — starting with original goaltenders Ray LeBlanc and Wendell Young and continuing through current Wolves Max Lagace and Oscar Dansk — 38 boast NHL experience (70.4 percent).