Win to fight another day.
That had to be the Chicago Wolves mentality heading into a win or go home game 4 at the Allstate Arena. After Sunday’s 4-3 OT win, the Charlotte Checkers took the commanding 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series. On Tuesday, the Wolves kept their Calder Cup hopes alive.
It was not the start the Wolves wanted on Tuesday. The Checkers were on the scoreboard 1:51 into the game. A shot from the point was deflected in front of Husso, who seemed liked he never saw the puck, put the Checkers in the drive seat early. Lucas Wallmark scored his third goal of the series, tying linemate Andrew Miller with the team lead in goals this series.
The Wolves went the first four minutes without a shot on goal. The Checkers were in control of the puck battles and were not giving the Wolves any chances early. But Samuel Blais would break the silence in the Allstate Arena tying the game at 1 at 12:19 in the first period. Blais, who scored his second goal of the playoffs, cleaned up a loose puck in front and got the crowd into the game.
The shots on goal at the end of the first period favored the home team, 11-9.
The second period provided a lot of action but no red lamps. The Wolves tightended up the defense and Villle Husso made some remarkable saves to keep the game tied at one heading into the third period.
The Wolves offense came to life in the beginning of the third period. First, it was Jake Walman who put the Wolves ahead 2-1 with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle.
Then, it was Jordan Schmaltz, who has appeared in the Stanley Cup playoffs with the St. Louis Blues, extending the Wolves lead to two goals with his first goal of the AHL playoffs. Chris Butler assisted on the goal, earning his third assist of this series.
For the Checkers in the third period, they were able to create chances but the Wolves defense tightened up in the third, keeping the chances low. It was a big adjustment by the Wolves defense and proved to be a big factor in the outcome of the game.
After making a huge block on the defensive end of the ice, Ty Rattie scored the empty-net goal to put the game away and later added a powerplay goal toward the end of the third period to put the Wolves up 5-1.
Ville Husso was dominate Tuesday night and put together his best performance, in my opinion, of this series. Husso had 26 saves and all signs point to him being the starter for Game 5.
The Wolves and Checkers will play in a winner take all Game 5 Wednesday night at the Allstate Arena.