CHICAGO WOLVES (2-2) AT SAN DIEGO GULLS (2-2)
At 12:52 Chicago time on Saturday morning, American Hockey League Most Valuable Player Daniel Carr accepted a pass from center T.J. Tynan at the blue line, raced into the slot and rifled a shot between goaltender Kevin Boyle’s pads to give the Chicago Wolves a 2-1 overtime win in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals.
The elated but exhausted Wolves celebrated in the corner of the rink as they evened the best-of-seven series and regained home-ice advantage. Carr’s second game-winner of the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs capped a wild ride belied by the 2-1 final score.
The Wolves dominated the opening 40 minutes and owned a 31-12 shot advantage at second intermission. It’s fair to say the Gulls felt fortunate (and the Wolves a bit disappointed) that the lead wasn’t significantly bigger than 1-0.
But the Gulls’ Justin Kloos found the equalizer just 3:36 into the third period as the hosts rode the wave of 12,147 fans to a dominant third period. The Gulls outshot the Wolves 9-5 in the third, then owned a 17-5 advantage during the first overtime. San Diego killed a four-minute double-minor early in that frame, then began peppering Wolves goalie Oscar Dansk (40 saves) to no avail. Dansk has stopped all 41 shots he has faced during the Wolves’ three postseason overtime contests (Game 1 vs. Iowa, Game 1 vs. San Diego, Game 4 at San Diego).
“We persevered,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson. “That’s been our whole year, you know? We persever. You have moments and it’s not easy. Because we definitely could have been up by more after the second period, then they come out and score and they’re feeling good. Now that’s a huge momentum shift. I just love how our guys handled the adversity because we’re not an old group or anything. We were able to stick to the plan, weather the storm. Oscar did what he needed to do for the guys — and then the guys did what they needed to do for him.”
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 2-2 and 1-3
It’s a bit of a “duh” statement, but the Chicago Wolves are far better off being tied after four games of this Western Conference Finals than entering tonight’s Game 5 trailing 3-1. A quick look at the team’s history, which probably mirrors most teams, provides the proof.
Prior to this season, the Wolves have been down 3-1 in six best-of-seven postseason series — most recently in the 2017 Central Division Finals against the Grand Rapids Griffins — and went on to lose all six of those series.
On the other hand, the Wolves have been knotted 2-2 in seven best-of-seven postseason series — most recently in the 2010 Western Division Final against the Texas Stars — and gone on to win every series except the one against Texas.
BY THE NUMBERS
3: For the second time this season and the third time in his professional career, Wolves left wing Daniel Carr produced the overtime game-winner. Prior to his exploits 6:01 into double overtime Friday night at San Diego, Carr and the Wolves took down the Texas Stars 1:04 into OT on March 1, 2019. He also enabled the Laval Rocket to earn an 8-7 win on Oct. 13, 2017, with his goal against Binghamton 1:12 into OT. The latter goal capped a hat trick. Friday’s GWG marked his second of this postseason (Central Division Finals Game 6 vs. Iowa on May 13) and fifth of the 2018-19 season overall.
4: Left wing Daniel Carr became the fourth Wolves player in the last 13 seasons to earn the AHL’s Most Valuable Player honor. He received the Les Cunningham Award prior to Game 1 of the Central Division Semifinals on April 19 and joined Kenny Agostino (2016-17), Jason Krog (2007-08) and Darren Haydar (2006-07) in this exclusive club. Hershey is the only other AHL team to have more than one MVP since the Wolves joined the league prior to the 2001-02 season.
13: Friday night’s 2-1 Wolves victory marked the 13th game in franchise annals that required more than one overtime to solve. Chicago pushed its record to 6-7 in such games and snapped a three-game losing streak. Since defeating the Texas Stars 4-3 in Game 2 of the 2010 West Division Final, the Wolves had fallen to San Antonio (decisive Game 5 of the 2012 Western Conference Quarterfinal), Utica (Game 1 of the 2015 Western Conference Quarterfinal) and Rockford (franchise-record triple overtime in Game 3 of the 2018 Central Division Semifinals).
21: When the Wolves win Game 1 of a postseason series, good things nearly always ensue. When the Wolves defeated the Iowa Wild in Game 1 of the Central Division Finals — then went on to take the series in six games — it marked the 21st consecutive time that Chicago has taken Game 1 and gone on to take the series as well. The streak began way back in 1998 when the Wolves swept Manitoba in the IHL’s Western Conference Quarterfinal. The Wolves are 21-1 when winning Game 1 — and the only loss came to the Las Vegas Thunder in the 1996 Western Conference Semifinal. One of the key contributors on that Las Vegas squad was high-scoring forward Ken Quinney, the father of current Wolves center Gage Quinney.
232: The San Diego Gulls’ 20 active players for the first four games featured 14 young men who played for the Anaheim Ducks — their NHL partner — at some point during the regular season. Those 20 players combined for 232 NHL appearances during 2018-19. In contrast, the Wolves suited up just three players who saw NHL action for the Vegas Golden Knights this season: Forward Tomas Hyka (17 games), who made the stretch pass to spring Cody Glass for the game-winning breakaway, forward Daniel Carr (6 games), who scored a goal Friday night, and goaltender Max Lagace (1 game).
358: If you’ve suited up for the Wolves, chances are better than 50/50 that you’ve played in the National Hockey League or are on your way. 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 Oscar Dansk and Max Lagace — 38 boast NHL experience (69.1 percent).
THE SERIES SO FAR…
- AHL MVP Daniel Carr scored 6 minutes and 1 second into the second overtime to give the Wolves the Game 4 decision in front of 12,147 at Pechanga Arena.
- Forwards T.J. Tynan and Curtis McKenzie set up Carr’s GWG while defenseman Griffin Reinhart’s first postseason goal gave Chicago a 1-0 lead 4:17 into the second period.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk stopped 40 shots — 20 of them after regulation.
- The Wolves jumped on the board early with forward Tye McGinn‘s rebound goal at 1:35, but the Gulls posted the next three goals to pick up the Game 3 win at Pechanga Arena.
- Forward Curtis McKenzie scored with 3:30 left to pull the Wolves within one, but couldn’t find the equalizer despite skating with an extra attacker.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk notched 26 saves.
- The Wolves were unable to solve Gulls goaltender Kevin Boyle as San Diego evened the series with its second postseason shutout in franchise history.
- Chicago had a 29-23 advantage in shots on net, but couldn’t convert despite four power-play opportunities.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk stopped 20 of the 22 shots he faced.
- For the second postseason series in a row, rookie center Cody Glass produced the game-winning goal in overtime — scoring at 14:03 of the first OT to give the Wolves the Game 1 win.
- Forwards Tobias Lindberg, Daniel Carr and Tye McGinn gave the Wolves leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 before needing rookie defenseman Nic Hague’s goal with 3:05 left in regulation to force OT.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk posted a season-high 40 saves.
WESTERN CONFERENCE finals schedule
|Game 1||Wolves 5, Gulls 4 (OT)||Allstate Arena|
|Game 2||Gulls 3, Wolves 0||Allstate Arena|
|Game 3||Gulls 3, Wolves 2||Pechanga Arena|
|Game 4||Wolves 2, Gulls 1 (2 OT)||Pechanga Arena|
|Game 5||Saturday, May 25||Pechanga Arena||9 p.m.||Watch|
|Game 6||Monday, May 27||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|
|Game 7*||Wednesday, May 29||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|