IOWA WILD (0-1) AT CHICAGO WOLVES (1-0)
WHAT A WAY TO START THE SERIES
Considering the Chicago Wolves and Iowa Wild needed overtime to solve four of their eight regular-season games, nobody should have been surprised they required extra time to identify the winner of Game 1 of the Central Division Finals on Wednesday night at Allstate Arena.
The Wolves emerged victorious at 18:39 of the first overtime when rookie center Cody Glass — playing his 12th game as a professional — circled into the slot, received a pass from linemate Tye McGinn and buried a one-timer past Iowa goaltender Andrew Hammond.
The Wolves mauled Glass in the corner as they celebrated their third straight postseason win. Glass and McGinn also teamed up for the game-winner in the first of those three straight victories — as their give-and-go early in the third period made the difference in Game 4 of the Central Division Semifinals at Grand Rapids.
Glass’ goal made a winner of goaltender Oscar Dansk, who stood tall during overtime with 10 of his 26 saves. “I actually thought (Iowa) outplayed us in the overtime for the first 10 minutes and Oscar made some huge saves,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson. “Now, we had a few opportunities back. Hammond made some nice saves, too, on us. Then, about the 12-minute mark, we started to come a little bit. We started to get some more time in the offensive zone and I thought, probably the last three minutes, we were starting to have some success in the offensive zone.”
The Wolves earned their first Game 1 win since the 2014 Western Conference Quarterfinals against Rochester. Chicago has won its last 20 playoff series when taking Game 1 — a streak that began during the 1998 Turner Cup Playoffs.
CARR ANd MACEK RETURN TO THE FRAY
From the moment the puck dropped for Game 1, it already felt like a win for the Wolves because the team’s top two goal-scorers — left wing Daniel Carr and right wing Brooks Macek — returned to the lineup for the first time in several weeks. Carr, the AHL’s Most Valuable Player, saw his first action since suffering an injury March 5 at San Antonio while Macek played for the first time since getting hurt March 20 at Rockford.
The duo didn’t waste much time getting on the scoresheet as Macek delivered the game’s first goal at 14:24 of the first. Carr picked up the primary assist on the play. Then, on Cody Glass’ game-winning score, Carr earned the secondary assist as he used the back boards to bank a pass from the left wall to the right wall for Tye McGinn. That led directly to McGinn’s setup for Glass.
“I think it took me a period to kind of get the timing back,” Carr said. “It’s tough jumping in. You’ve got to give credit to (the Wild). They don’t give up much, so it’s one of those games that’s pretty tight.”
BY THE NUMBERS
1: The Wild have allowed just one power-play goal in the postseason, which ranks first among the 16 playoff teams with a 96.3 percent clip as they’ve killed 26 of 27 opponents’ power plays. The Wild only allowed a goal late in the second period of Game 5 at Milwaukee while killing off a 5-on-3 Admirals advantage.
2: The Wolves added two prolific forwards back to their lineup Wednesday night when Daniel Carr and Brooks Macek returned after several weeks away. Carr, the league MVP with 30 goals and 41 assists in 52 game, missed 23 games while healing an upper-body injury. Macek, who stacked up 26 goals and 34 assists in 64 games, sat out 17 games with an upper-body injury. With usual linemate Gage Quinney out due to injury, Carr and Macek joined forces with center Matthew Weis.
4: Left wing Daniel Carr became the fourth Wolves player in the last 13 seasons to earn the AHL’s Most Valuable Player award. He received the honor prior to Game 1 on April 19 and joined Kenny Agostino (2016-17), Jason Krog (2007-08) and Darren Haydar (2006-07) in this exclusive club.
7: The Wolves killed off all three of Iowa’s power-play opportunities Wednesday night, which means they’ve taken care of seven straight kills stretched out over their three-game winning streak. In fact, that’s where the line has been drawn between winning and losing throughout this postseason for the Wolves. They’re 4-0 in the games where they’ve killed every penalty, but 0-2 when they failed to do that.
12: With Wednesday night’s win, the Wolves improved their overtime record in postseason play to 12-18 (.400). It had been exactly four years since Chicago’s last overtime win in postseason — a 4-3 win at Utica in Game 4 of the 2015 Western Conference Finals. The Wolves’ goalie that day was Jordan Binnington, who spent the four-year anniversary manning the net for the St. Louis Blues against the Dallas Stars. Defenseman Joel Edmundson delivered the game-winner 2:19 into the first OT. Coincidentally, current Iowa captain Cal O’Reilly posted two assists for Utica that night.
20: The last 20 times the Wolves took Game 1 in a postseason series, they went on to take the series. In fact, the only time the Wolves have taken Game 1 and failed to advance occurred in 1996. The Las Vegas Thunder spotted the Wolves a 1-0 lead in the Western Conference Semifinal, but then took the next four. One of the key contributors on that Las Vegas squad was high-scoring forward Ken Quinney, the father of current Wolves center Gage Quinney. Gage was nine months old when the Thunder knocked the Wolves out of those playoffs.
358: If you’ve suited up for the Wolves, chances are better than 50/50 that you’ve also played in the National Hockey League. Of the 623 players who have suited up for the Wolves over 25 seasons, 358 also have competed in the NHL. That 57.5 percent overall success rate is even higher among goaltenders. Of the 55 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 (69.1 percent).
CENTRAL DIVISION FINALS SCHEDULE
|Wolves 3, Wild 2 (OT)
|Thursday, May 2
|Sunday, May 5
|Wells Fargo Arena
|Wednesday, May 8
|Wells Fargo Arena
|Friday, May 10
|Wells Fargo Arena
|Monday, May 13
|Wednesday, May 15