This weekend proved that the Chicago Wolves can play with the best, especially when their special teams are a force. Last night, Chicago killed off six of seven Abbotsford (33-17-4-1) power plays in a 5-3 victory. Sunday afternoon featured more of the same, as Chicago (31-17-4-2) kept the Heat scoreless on five man-advantages in a 2-0 win.
“We just seem a lot more confident,” said Wolves head coach John Anderson. “We played smarter.”
Jake Allen was solid in net, making 21 saves to earn his AHL-co-best 23rd victory and third shutout of the season.
“I wasn’t tested a ton tonight, but sometimes those games are tough to stay focused,” said Allen. “It was just a huge win overall for us.”
Allen’s sound play helped Chicago preserve a 1-0 lead following Evan Oberg’s tally midway through the opening period. Ty Rattie would bury home hist 21st goal of the season off a pinpoint pass from Brent Regner on the back end of a double minor penalty to Abbotsford’s Shane O’Brien, giving the Wolves a 2-0 lead. Both Chicago goals came on the man-advantage, adding to the quality special teams effort.
“I think we’re just keeping it simple and moving the puck quick and getting shots on net with guys in front,” said Oberg. “We started off slow with the power play this year, but I think we’re picking it up and we’re gelling right now.”
After nearly blowing a three-goal lead last night in the third period to Abbotsford, the Wolves played a clean final seven minutes, 47 seconds to seal the 2-0 win.
I think we just stayed focused,” said Oberg. “We learned from the third period of our last game. We just kept it simple and didn’t give them any quality shots.”
“You don’t want to give them any life,” added Allen. “Last night we gave them some life and they took advantage of it. Tonight, we didn’t give them much life so that was huge for us.”
Coming away with two wins against the Western Conference leaders was key for the Wolves, who temporarily moved into sole possession of first place in the Midwest division. Chicago has been keeping pace with Grand Rapids for the last couple games, and now finally may have gotten over the hump.
“We’ve still got a ways to go, but this was a big stepping stone for us,” said Allen.
“It shows the rest of the league that we’re for real and we’re ready to come and play,” added Oberg.
Chicago will be off until Friday, when it hosts Rochester in the third of a current four-game home stand. The Wolves have gotten points in 15 straight games at Allstate Arena (13-0-2-0).