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Wolves take 2-0 series lead

Chicago 4 | Iowa 3
Wolves score twice in first five minutes, then Dansk and the defense hold on

The Chicago Wolves seized a 2-0 series lead in the Central Division Finals with a 4-3 Game 2 victory over the Iowa Wild on Thursday night at Allstate Arena.

Forwards Brooks Macek, Matthew Weis and Tobias Lindberg and rookie defenseman Zach Whitecloud scored for Chicago (5-2) while forward Daniel Carr collected his second consecutive two-assist performance.

Stefan Matteau posted the primary assist on a pair of goals while netminder Oscar Dansk (4-1) recorded 22 saves, including 11 in the final period, to earn his fourth win in a row.

“I think Oscar has played outstanding in these last number of games,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson. “Those two elimination games (against Grand Rapids) and he had a really good Game 1 as well. I thought he played really well again (tonight).”

Luke Kunin tallied a pair of goals for Iowa (3-4) while Gerald Mayhew added his third goal of the series. Goaltender Andrew Hammond (3-4) stopped 26 shots.

For the second night in a row, Macek opened the scoring for the Wolves when he capitalized on a rebound in front of Hammond. Macek sent a centering pass out from behind the Iowa net, which reached defenseman Griffin Reinhart at the left point. Hammond got a piece of Reinhart’s one-timer, but couldn’t hang on and Macek put away the loose puck at 1:29 for a 1-0 Chicago lead.

Weis tallied his first postseason goal as a professional at 4:42 to make it a two-goal lead, ripping a shot from the right circle after Matteau picked off a pass just inside the Iowa blue line and sent a no-look pass to Weis.

Iowa scored a pair of goals in the back half of the first period, with Mayhew scoring on the Wild power play at 10:15 before Kunin evened the score at 17:50 during a scramble in front of Dansk.

The Wolves responded before the horn to go into the intermission with a lead. Whitecloud scored his second of the playoffs at 18:28 as he streaked into the slot for a centering pass from Macek, then sent a quick shot over Hammond’s glove for a 3-2 advantage.

Lindberg widened the Wolves’ lead 6:07 into the second period, scoring from the left faceoff dot after Matteau skated coast to coast with the puck and dished a cross-ice pass to Lindberg. The eventual game-winner was Lindberg’s first career postseason goal.

Kunin cut the lead 4-3 at the 19:02 mark of the second, sending a shot in from the Wild bench that found its way through traffic, but the Wild were unable to convert on the momentum in the final period and fell back 2-0 in the series.

The series shifts to Des Moines for the next three games. The Wolves and the Wild meet at 3 p.m. Sunday at Wells Fargo Arena and Game 3 will be streamed on AHLTV (TheAHL.com/AHLTV). If necessary, the Wolves’ next home game will be Game 6 on Monday, May 13.