Special teams have seemed to dictate the Chicago Wolves’ success throughout this season, playoffs included. Friday night was a prime example of that as the Wolves failed to convert on three power play chances, including a crucial third period man-advantage with Chicago down two goals. The Wolves also surrendered two power play goals, both in the opening period, which allowed Toronto to build an early lead en route to a 5-2 victory at Allstate Arena in game one of the Western Conference semifinals.
“You can’t give them much, they’ve got too much firepower,” said Michael Davies, who scored Chicago’s second goal of the game. “We’ve just got to stay out the penalty box.”
The Marlies converted on two of their five power plays in the game. Chicago killed off just 70.4 percent of its penalties in round one of the playoffs after posting the league’s fourth-best penalty kill (85.6%) during the regular season.
Toronto scored early in the second frame to open up a three-goal advantage. However, a mid-second period spark from Christian Hanson allowed the Wolves to get back in it. Mark Cundari rifled a perfectly placed pass that caromed off the end boards to the front of the net and Hanson was there to clean it up and get Chicago on the board.
In tight along the side boards, Ty Rattie made a beautiful tap pass to Davies, who beat Marlies goaltender Drew MacIntyre to make it a one-goal deficit for the Wolves, but that was as close as they would get.
“We thought we still had a chance, but it was just too much to overcome,” said Wolves head coach John Anderson.
After Mark Cundari nearly tied the game in the opening minutes of the third period with a shot that ricocheted off the crossbar, the Marlies scored the game’s final two goals to seal away the game one victory on the road. Carter Ashton gave Toronto a two-goal lead when he whiffed on a breakaway from the blue line in, but had the puck redirect off Wolves goaltender Jake Allen’s stick and in.
“What are you going to do,” said Anderson.
Chicago and Toronto will see a 24-hour turnaround before facing off again in game two of the series Saturday night back at Allstate Arena.
“We’ve just got to come back tomorrow, stay within our systems, and keep the game five-on-five,” said Davies.
MacIntyre recorded 37 saves in the win for the Marlies.