Forward Adam Cracknell racked up 2 goals in the opening 16 minutes and goaltender Jake Allen rejected 18 shots as the Chicago Wolves earned a 4-0 victory over Rochester in Game 3 of the AHL's Western Conference quarterfinals at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont on Thursday night.
Cracknell, who returned to the Wolves on Wednesday after playing for the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup playoffs against the Blackhawks, notched a shorthanded goal and a power-play tally in the first period. Keith Aucoin and Ty Rattie added power-play goals as the Wolves grabbed a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series and the chance to close it out at home today at 7:30 p.m.
"When our special teams are doing good things like that, we should be able to win hockey games," said Wolves coach John Anderson. "(Allen) answered the bell every time he had to."
The Wolves grabbed a 1-0 lead at 14:08 of the first period on Cracknell's shorthanded goal. The Americans couldn't control the puck in the Wolves' zone and Aucoin picked it up at the blue line to launch a 2-on-1. Aucoin paused at the top of the right circle, waited for Cracknell to fill the left wing and fed him for a one-timer that beat Andrey Makarov.
Cracknell added a power-play goal at 15:56 of the first when he re-directed Brent Regner's blast from the point past Makarov.
Aucoin increased the Wolves' lead to 3-0 at 2:16 of the third with a power-play tally. Regner launched a shot from the point and Makarov allowed a rebound that bounced just outside the crease. Dmitrij Jaskin swooped in and dished to Aucoin in the left circle for a flip into the open net.
The Wolves made it 4-0 on Rattie's power-play goal at 7:36 of the third. Defenseman Joe Corvo fired a wrister from the point that Jaskin tipped in the slot and Rattie redirected into the net from just beyond of the crease. The officials waved it off initially, but confirmed the goal after a video review.
Allen (2-1), who led the AHL during the regular season with 7 shutouts, earned his first professional postseason shutout. Makarov (1-2) stopped 26 shots.