It has been a solid month of December for Wolves’ goaltender Jake Allen, who improved his December record to 5-2 this season in a 4-3 victory over the Charlotte Checkers Sunday afternoon at Allstate Arena. Allen was sensational in net again, stopping 36 shots, as the Wolves (17-12-1-2) extended their point streak to six games.
Allen needed to be sharp out of the gate, as the Checkers (13-17-0-1) put six shots on net in the opening two minutes of the game.
“Jake was great early on,” said Wolves head coach John Anderson.
“You know, third game in three nights, we came out a little sluggish,” added Allen. “Luckily, we came away 0-0 there.”
Allen’s steady play seemed to be a momentum shifter, as the Wolves would score just 8 seconds after the Charlotte offensive rush on a tap-in from Christian Hanson.
The Checkers would tie the game midway through the period on a beautiful move by Aaron Palushaj to get around Allen’s outstretched glove.
Goaltending was at its finest on both ends until the 12:49 mark of the second period, as the teams combined for three goals in the next 5:21 of play.
After goals from the Wolves Michael Davies and Sebastian Wannstrom, and another Checkers tally from Palushaj, Chicago led 3-2 heading to the final period.
Wannstrom’s go-ahead goal was huge for the Wolves, who came in 13-0-1-1 when leading after two periods.
The Checkers would get a chance to tie the game early in the third period on a 36 second five-on-three power play. However, the Wolves’ defense came up big, and killed off advantage with ease.
“That five-on-three kill was huge,” said Anderson. “We weren’t going to give them a grade-A chance but we didn’t give them a shot from the near side. When you have confidence in your goaltender, you can do that.”
“I don’t think we would be where we are over the last ten games without our penalty kill,” added Allen. “The guys came up huge for us.”
Pat Cannone gave Chicago an insurance goal late in the game, but Charlotte would respond and make it a one-goal deficit with 1:35 to play in the third.
Checkers goaltender Anton Khudobin would head towards the bench after Charlotte controlled the puck in the offensive zone, but Allen stood tough and kept the puck out of the net to preserve the victory.
With the win, Allen improved his overall record to 14-7-2, and stands among the AHL leaders in goals-against-average.
“Without him, we’re not where we are,” said Anderson.
Now, the Wolves head into 2014 with a well-deserved break, having played a three-in-three to close out the calendar year. Chicago will be back in action January 3rd against division-leading Grand Rapids.