Josh Leivo snapped home a wrister from the high slot with 2.2 seconds left in overtime to lift the Chicago Wolves to a 4-3 victory over the Manitoba Moose Friday night at Allstate Arena.
Leivo, Andrew Poturalski and Jamieson Rees scored in regulation for the Wolves (38-11-5-5), who all poured on the ice to maul Leivo for his latest heroics against second-place Manitoba (33-18-4-2).
The last time the Moose visited the Wolves, on Dec. 16, Leivo scored with 1.1 seconds left in regulation to give Chicago a 4-3 victory.
Now the Wolves hold a 14-point lead over the Moose in the Central Division and their magic number to clinch a Calder Cup Playoff berth dropped to 5.
“It kind of had that feel on the bench when Leivo scored,” said Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky. “Everyone was super-excited, like he just scored a playoff goal. I think that brings the team together. I think that brings us together in how we need to play. Big goal. Big game for us. Good crowd. I think we fed off it. Just a really good experience for us.”
Leivo gave the Wolves the initial lead at 5:39 of the first. Rees, working from the left point, sent a pass to Leivo along the goal line to goaltender Evan Cormier’s right. Leivo flipped a backhand off Cormier’s back side and into the net for his 15th goal of the year.
The Wolves pushed the lead to 2-0 by taking advantage of the game’s first power play. From the point, Joey Keane found Poturalski in the left circle. Noesen, on the far side of the crease, set his stick on the ice while fending off a Moose defender. Poturalski zipped a pass toward Noesen’s tape, but the defender stuck his stick in the way and redirected it perfectly for Poturalski to pick up his 100th goal as a professional.
Manitoba sliced the lead in half on its first power play of the night as Jeff Malott knocked home a rebound at 18:44 of the first. The Moose pulled even 53 seconds into the second period when Mikey Eyssimont scored on a 2-on-1 rush.
The Moose took a 3-2 lead on C.J. Suess’ power-play goal at 15:11 of the second, but the Wolves answered 1:44 into the third. Leivo collected a puck below the goal line and tapped a pass toward the crease. Rees claimed it and tried to jam it past Cormier, who stopped the first attempt but could not block Rees’ rebound.
Alex Lyon (16-6-3) rejected 20 of 23 shots in regulation and all 7 he faced in overtime to earn the win while Cormier (5-1-3) posted 24 saves.
The Wolves start a three-game road trip at 3 p.m. Sunday in Iowa. Chicago returns to Allstate Arena to face the Milwaukee Admirals at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 2, on Salute to Military Families Night. For the best ticket specials, contact a Wolves representative at [email protected].