Stefan Noesen scored one goal and set up two others to pace the Chicago Wolves to a 3-1 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins Sunday afternoon at Allstate Arena.
Forwards Andrew Poturalski and Josh Leivo also scored and goaltender Eetu Makiniemi stopped 18 shots for the Wolves (11-4-1-1), who won their third game in as many days to stay ahead of the Iowa Wild for first place in the American Hockey League’s Central Division.
Chicago, which owned a 44-19 shot advantage, improved to 5-0 against Grand Rapids this season.
“I thought we won different ways this weekend,” said Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky. “Obviously the big comeback (from a 3-0 third-period deficit) Friday and the comeback last night. Tonight, we managed the game a lot better. That’s how we need to play — with a lead in the third period.”
The Wolves jumped into the lead at 5:41 of the first when the Griffins turned over the puck while trying to bank a pass off the boards behind the net. The puck skittered from Noesen to C.J. Smith at the left faceoff dot and he rifled a quick shot to the top of the crease, where Poturalski was waiting to deflect it past goaltender Calvin Pickard.
Chicago pumped its lead to 2-0 at 3:27 of the second as Leivo capitalized on the team’s first power play of the day. Defenseman Max Lajoie snapped a shot from the point into traffic just outside the crease. Noesen won control and flicked a pass to the doorstep for Leivo, who rammed it past Pickard.
Noesen earned his third point of the night when he finished off an odd-man rush at 15:21 of the second. After Makiniemi stoned a point-blank shot by Kyle Criscuolo, Smith launched a 3-on-2 rush down the left wing. He fed Jesper Sellgren working down the right wing, then Sellgren led Noesen with a perfect pass just above the crease that Noesen redirected home for a 3-0 lead.
The Griffins (7-7-2-1) ended Makiniemi’s bid for his second shutout of the season when defenseman Ryan Murphy scored at 11:33 of the third while Grand Rapids enjoyed a 5-on-3 power play.
Makiniemi, whose remarkable day included a behind-the-back save midway through the second period, improved his record to 7-2-1 this season while Pickard (7-4-2) posted 41 saves in the loss.
The Wolves host the Iowa Wild at 7 p.m. Thursday on Craft Beer Night. To find terrific Cyber Monday specials on Wolves tickets and merchandise, visit ChicagoWolves.com or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.