Stefan Noesen and Andrew Poturalski stacked up three points apiece and Pyotr Kochetkov posted 23 saves to spark the Chicago Wolves to a 3-1 victory over the Texas Stars Tuesday night at Allstate Arena.
Noesen scored his league-leading 35th goal for the Wolves (37-11-5-5) while Poturalski handed out three assists to push his AHL-best points total to 79. Defenseman Joey Keane and forward David Gust also scored goals as Chicago dropped its magic number for a playoff berth to 7.
The 22-year-old Kochetkov, who came over from Russia to make his North American debut Feb. 19, improved his record to 6-0-1 and dropped his goals-against average to 1.85.
“With the travel (to and from Toronto) and the two games there over the weekend, it could have been easy for us to play down a level,” said Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky. “We didn’t do that, so that was impressive. I loved our first two periods.”
The Wolves outshot the Stars 39-24 and earned seven power-play opportunities compared to Texas’ 1.
The Wolves got on the board just 2:31 into the game on Keane’s power-play goal. Chicago’s top power-play unit stayed in Texas’ offensive zone for nearly the entire man-advantage, which ended with Noesen collected the puck behind the net and passing to Keane for a blast from the high slot.
The Wolves boosted their lead to 3-0 early in the second period as the top line of Gust, Noesen and Poturalski teamed up for two goals in 13 seconds.
Keane carried the puck into the offensive zone, went to the right point and rimmed the puck around to the left corner. Poturalski claimed in there and fed down to the back boards for Noesen, who spied Gust breaking into the slot. Gust accepted the quick pass, held the puck momentarily to get a better angle and went top-shelf to beat Texas goaltender Adam Scheel at 1:32.
Warsofsky kept the same group on the ice and they paid dividends again. Scheel tried to clear the puck along the right wall, but Poturalski pounced on it along the half-wall and dished to Gust in the right faceoff circle. He noticed Noesen alone in the left faceoff circle for a blast that became his 29th goal in his last 32 games.
Texas (22-24-6-5) ruined Kochetkov’s bid for his first AHL shutout when Winfield native Anthony Louis swatted home a backhand on a 2-on-1 opportunity with 8:22 left in the game.
Scheel (7-7-6) finished with 36 saves.
The Wolves host the Manitoba Moose at 7 p.m. Friday for $2 Beer Night at Allstate Arena. To get the best ticket specials, contact a team representative at [email protected].