Despite firing 24 more shots than the Milwaukee Admirals, the Chicago Wolves dropped Game 3 of the Central Division Finals by a 4-2 count Wednesday night at Panther Arena.
Forwards Jack Drury and Josh Leivo scored in the third period for the Wolves (5-1), who could not deliver their second straight three-game sweep in the Calder Cup Playoffs as Milwaukee converted three consecutive power-play opportunities during the middle of the game.
The Wolves’ next chance to wrap up the series will be 7 p.m. Friday when they return to Milwaukee for Game 4.
“They’re not just going to roll over, right?” said Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky. “They’re in their home building, they’ve grinded all season long. They’ve got some really good players over there. They’re well-prepared by the coaching staff. We figured this was going to happen. This is the playoffs. We have to turn the page.”
Neither team scored in the first period, which marked the first time in the playoffs the Wolves headed to their dressing room without the lead.
Milwaukee earned its first lead of the series on Rocco Grimaldi’s power-play goal 4:51 into the second period. Former Wolves center Cody Glass and Cole Schneider assisted on the play.
The Admirals, who boasted the AHL’s second-best power play during the regular season, struck again on their next man-advantage as Glass set up Cole Smith for a redirect from the slot at 16:01 of the second.
The Wolves needed just nine seconds of the third period to slice their deficit in half. Leivo forced a turnover behind the Admirals net that David Gust collected. He spied Drury open at the bottom of the left circle and fed him for the Winnetka native’s fifth goal of the playoffs.
Milwaukee responded with its third power-play goal as Schneider swatted home the rebound of a Glass shot at 2:31 to give the Admirals a 3-1 edge. The Admirals made it 4-1 when Brayden Burke tipped Smith’s centering pass from the left half-wall at 5:41.
Chicago slashed the lead to 4-2 with 5:16 left in regulation on Leivo’s goal whistled through traffic from the left point.
Warsofsky pulled goaltender Alex Lyon with 4:15 left to gain an extra attacker, but could not get any closer despite earning a few more scoring chances.
Admirals rookie goalie Devin Cooley (3-1), who made his AHL debut with the Wolves, rejected 47 shots on his 25th birthday to pick up the win. The Wolves’ Alex Lyon (5-1) notched 21 saves.
If the Central Division Finals don’t conclude Friday night at Milwaukee, then the Wolves host the winner-take-all Game 5 at 3 p.m. Sunday at Allstate Arena. To get the best deals on playoff tickets, visit ChicagoWolves.com/Playoffs or contact a team representative via email at WolvesTix@ChicagoWolves.com.