CHICAGO WOLVES (2-1)
AT MILWAUKEE ADMIRALS (1-2)
Friday, May 27 | 7 p.m. | Panther Arena | AHLTV | Facebook Live
THREE IS A MAGIC NUMBER
On Wednesday night at Panther Arena, the Milwaukee Admirals scored 3 power-play goals in the final two periods to earn a 4-2 victory in Game 3 of the Central Division Finals and stave off elimination from the Calder Cup Playoffs. It marked the 15th time in Wolves history they allowed at least 3 power-play goals in a postseason game — and they own a 1-14 record in those games.
As a general rule, it’s hard to beat a team that hits the magic number of 3 PPGs. The Wolves own a 13-3 postseason record when scoring at least 3 power-play goals. When looking at all games, the Wolves have won the last 10 times they’ve produced at least 3 power-play goals. So how might the Wolves respond to this loss during tonight’s Game 4? As it happens, we can examine recent history for a hint.
On Saturday, April 23, the Admirals visited Allstate Arena for the final time in the regular season and scored 3 power-play goals in the final two periods to earn a 3-1 victory over the Wolves. It marked the only game during the 2021-22 season that the Wolves allowed three PPGs.
How did the Wolves respond to that loss? They killed off the next 13 penalty kills they faced and ripped off eight straight wins — three in the regular season and five in the Calder Cup Playoffs — to clinch the AHL’s best regular-season record and to pull within one win of the Western Conference Finals.
“I think we’re feeling good,” said Wolves head coach Ryan Warsofsky. “I think we have a really good group of guys who want to win, who play for each other. That’s what you want as a coach. So far, it’s been good. Now we’ve got to turn the page and be ready to go.”
DIDN’T WANT TO GO UNDEFEATED ANYWAY…
If the Wolves had won Game 3 Wednesday night, then they would have become the ninth AHL team since 1996 to take an undefeated record into the conference finals (1996 is the demarcation line because that’s the first time the AHL qualified 16 teams for the playoffs, which means winning at least two series to get to the finals).
Of the first eight teams to get to the conference finals without a blemish on their record, only two went ahead and captured the Calder Cup:
|2019: Toronto Marlies (7-0)||Lost in conference finals|
|2018: Rockford IceHogs (7-0)||Lost in conference finals|
|2014: Toronto Marlies (7-0)||Lost in conference finals|
|2013: Syracuse Crunch (7-0)||Lost in finals|
|2006: Hershey Bears (8-0)||Won Cup|
|2000: Providence Bruins (7-0)||Lost in conference finals|
|1998: Albany River Rats (7-0)||Lost in conference finals|
|1996: Rochester Americans (7-0)||Won Cup|
LAST TWO GAMES
WEDNESDAY, MAY 25: (AT) MILWAUKEE 4, CHICAGO 2
- After a scoreless first period, the Admirals converted three consecutive power-play chances and never trailed in their Game 3 victory at Panther Arena.
- Rookie center Jack Drury scored nine seconds into the third period to slice the deficit to 2-1 while forward Josh Leivo notched one goal and one assist as both extended point streaks to six games.
- Goaltender Alex Lyon posted 21 saves.
SUNDAY, MAY 22: (AT) CHICAGO 8, MILWAUKEE 2
- The Wolves tied the franchise record for goals in a postseason game as they piled up three markers in the first period and five in the second on the way to the Game 2 triumph.
- Forward Stefan Noesen recorded the 12th postseason hat trick in franchise history while David Gust (2G, A), Andrew Poturalski (G, 2A), CJ Smith (G, 2A) and Josh Leivo (3A) added 3 points each.
- Goaltender Alex Lyon rejected 30 shots to earn his sixth win in a row dating back to April 30.
By the numbers
7: There are just seven teams left in the chase for the Calder Cup after Laval’s triple-overtime victory over Rochester on Wednesday night that capped a sweep of the North Division Finals. The Wolves have a chance to wrap up the Central Division Finals tonight, of course, and the Stockton Heat can sweep the Colorado Eagles at 8 p.m. today in Game 3 of the Pacific Division Finals. Springfield can earn a sweep of its own at 5 p.m. Saturday when it plays Game 3 of the Atlantic Division Finals at Charlotte. If Stockton and Springfield win, they’ll become the ninth and 10th AHL teams in the last 25 Calder Cup Playoffs (see Page 1 of these notes) to reach the conference finals without a loss.
10: Veteran forward Josh Leivo wears No. 10 for the Wolves and he has delivered 10 points and a +10 plus/minus rating in Chicago’s first six playoff games. Leivo, who notched 1 goal and 1 assist in Game 3 Wednesday night, has gotten on the scoresheet in all six games (3G, 7A) and his 10 points pace the Wolves and share fifth place among all AHL postseason participants. His +10 plus/minus leads the AHL as the Wolves are dominating that category. Linemates David Gust (+9) and Jack Drury (+8) rank next in the plus/minus standings alongside Wolves defenseman Joey Keane (+8) and Colorado’s Keaton Middleton (+8).
11: Lost in the shuffle of the Wolves’ 49-shot fusillade against Milwaukee in Game 3 was this little nugget: Wolves captain Andrew Poturalski launched a career-high 11 shots. Not only did the two-time defending John B. Sollenberger Trophy winner hit double digits in shots for the first time since turning pro in 2016, he set a Wolves Calder Cup Playoffs record for shots. Only one Wolves player has been credited with more shots on goal in a playoff game: Dan Currie’s 12 in Game 2 of the International Hockey League’s Western Conference Quarterfinals on April 20, 1996.
Here’s the list of Wolves who’ve hit double figures in the postseason:
|12||Dan Currie||April 20, 1996||at San Francisco|
|11||Andrew Poturalski||May 25, 2002||at Milwaukee|
|10||Niklas Andersson||May 10, 2001||at Manitoba (OT)|
|10||Rob Brown||April 19, 1996||at San Francisco|
|10||Steve Maltais||April 24, 1996||vs. San Francisco|
|10||Steve Maltais||May 25, 2001||vs. Orlando (OT)|
|10||Brandon Pirri||April 26, 2018||vs. Rockford (3 OT)|
|10||Tom Tilley||May 5, 1998||at Milwaukee|
17: Between the Wolves and Admirals, there are 17 players on the Division Finals rosters who played for the Wolves last season when Chicago had partnership deals with Carolina and Nashville. On the Wolves’ side, there’s forwards David Cotton, David Gust, Stelio Mattheos, Jamieson Rees, Spencer Smallman and Ryan Suzuki and defensemen Cavan Fitzgerald, Joey Keane and Max Lajoie. All but Cotton and Suzuki played in the first three games. On the Admirals’ side, there’s forwards Luke Evangelista, Tommy Novak and Cole Smith, defensemen Jeremy Davies, Marc Del Gaizo and Josh Healey and goaltenders Devin Cooley and Connor Ingram. All but Evangelista has played in the series, though Novak left early in Game 1 with an apparent injury.
21: In keeping with the shots theme, the Wolves set the postseason franchise record for most shots in a period with 21 in the second frame Wednesday night against Milwaukee Admirals and former Wolves goaltender Devin Cooley. They also tied the franchise record for most shots in a regulation postseason game with 49. The effort tied a 26-year-old record set on April 24, 1996, when Steve Maltais and the Wolves unleashed 49 in Game 3 of the IHL’s Western Conference Semifinals vs. San Francisco. The franchise’s all-time postseason record was set during the Wolves’ longest game in history, when Brandon Pirri and Co. launched 55 in a 4-3 triple-overtime loss to Rockford in Game 3 of the 2018 Central Division Semifinals.
423: Since the Wolves played their first game on Oct. 1, 1994, a total of 727 players have suited up for Chicago. When 22-year-old goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov made his NHL debut for the Carolina Hurricanes on April 23, he became the 423rd Wolves player to play in the NHL. That makes 58.2 percent of all Wolves players — and 70 percent of all Wolves goalies (49 of 70).
THE CENTRAL DIVISION FINALS SCHEDULE
|Game 1||Saturday, May 21||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||CHI 6, MIL 2|
|Game 2||Sunday, May 22||Allstate Arena||3 p.m.||CHI 8, MIL 2|
|Game 3||Wednesday, May 25||Panther Arena||7 p.m.||MIL 4, CHI 2|
|Game 4||Friday, May 27||Panther Arena||7 p.m.|
|Game 5*||Sunday, May 29||Allstate Arena||3 p.m.||GAME 5 TICKETS|
All games are streamed on AHLTV.