Captain Andrew Poturalski produced one goal and one assist on his 28th birthday, but the Iowa Wild broke a tie with 5:49 left to pick up a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Wolves Friday night at Wells Fargo Arena.
Des Moines native C.J. Smith and defenseman Max Lajoie also scored goals for the Wolves (23-6-1-1), who lost for just the second time since Nov. 20.
Chicago drew first blood with 8.4 seconds left in the first period. After an extended possession on the power play, Smith and Lajoie exchanged perimeter passes to set up Lajoie’s snapper from the left point that whizzed through traffic and past goaltender Zane McIntyre.
Iowa (13-13-2-2) responded with two goals in the opening 47 seconds of the second period. Mitchell Chaffee scored at 0:34, then longtime NHL standout Eric Staal scored 13 seconds later to celebrate his first AHL game since May 14, 2005. Staal, who scored 441 goals during his 17-year NHL career, joined the Wild Friday to prepare for a spot on Team Canada for the Olympics.
The Wild boosted their lead to 3-1 at 4:50 when Dominic Turgeon’s innocuous wrister from the left half-wall hit net-front traffic and flew over everyone’s head across the goal line.
The Wolves started their rally with a perfect tic-tac-toe connection from Poturalski in the left circle to Stefan Noesen on the goal line to Smith in the right circle for a top-shelf blast on the power play to cut the deficit to 3-2 at 5:43.
Chicago pulled even on Poturalski’s short-handed goal 4:48 into the third. Noesen collected a loose puck in the defensive zone and flipped a backhand pass across two lines to set up Poturalski for a breakaway that ended with him jamming a forehand through McIntyre to make it 3-3.
Iowa replied with a short-handed goal of its own as Nick Swaney zoomed in for a backhand to give the Wild a 4-3 lead with 5:49 left in regulation.
The Wolves pulled goaltender Alex Lyon for most of the final two minutes, but couldn’t convert a few solid chances. Lyon (9-2-1) finished with 25 saves while McIntyre (3-3-0) stopped 29 shots.
The Wolves stay in Des Moines to face Iowa again at 6 p.m. Saturday. After this five-game road trip ends, Chicago returns to Allstate Arena on Jan. 26, 28 and 29 for three big home games. To find the best deals on tickets, visit ChicagoWolves.com or email [email protected].