Wolves edge Wild for 2-0 lead
Starting back-to-back games is never an easy task for a goalie, and it's a big reason Chicago Wolves coach Rocky Thompson elected to use both of his netminders during a first-round series triumph over Grand Rapids.
But Thompson and his coaching staff played a hunch Thursday.
And boy did it pay off.
One night after an overtime victory against Iowa, Thompson elected to put Oscar Dansk back between the pipes for what turned out to be a thrilling 4-3 victory over the Wild at Allstate Arena.
The Wolves are up 2-0 in a best-of-seven series that moves to Iowa for Game 3 on Sunday at 3 p.m.
Dansk turned away 22 shots, 11 of which came in the third period, to improve to 5-1 in the playoffs.
"I've done it with Oscar probably four times this year and he's always done well in the (second) game, so there was a precedent set," Thompson said. "We felt comfortable doing it again and I thought he played really well."
Dansk admitted playing on two straight nights can be difficult.
"Obviously it's a little bit straining on your body and your mind," said Dansk, who went 27-9-6 during the regular season. "It's important to refuel with liquids and food. You've got to be really, really cognizant of that.
"It's not entirely easy, but it's fun, you know? You get to jump right back in. It's a challenge and personally I enjoy challenges."
Brooks Macek, in just his second game back since getting hurt at Rockford on March 20, scored the Wolves' first goal and also assisted on Zach Whitecloud's goal that gave the Wolves a 3-2 lead late in the first period. The return of Macek and league MVP Daniel Carr (2 assists) has breathed new life into the Wolves' offense and given Thompson confidence to roll four lines.
And as it turned out, it was the fourth line that provided the game winner when Tobias Lindberg took a perfect feed from Stefan Matteau and gave the Wolves a 4-2 lead at 6:07 of the second period. Matteau, a versatile winger who played eight games for Vegas this season, also assisted on Matthew Weis' goal that made it 2-0 early in the first period.
"I think I can do a little bit of everything," said Matteau, who was taken 29th overall by New Jersey in 2012. "Physical play and bringing energy is definitely a big part of my game. But there's a lot of focus on the hockey aspect in this round, and there's not so much of that intimidation factor.
"But I still try to bring it as much as I can. If the hit's there, I'll take it. But the team with the most hits doesn't win; it's the team with the most goals, right?"
Iowa made it 4-3 when a fluke shot from the sideboards deflected off the Wolves' Jake Bischoff and got past Dansk with 57.6 seconds remaining in the second period.
The Wild pushed hard in the third -- and especially with the goalie pulled in the final two minutes -- but blocked shots by Keegan Kolesar, Griffin Reinhart and Bischoff helped keep the puck out of the net.
"At the end there they were blocking probably six shots," Dansk said. "You know, that's huge."
Said Thompson: "That's how you win games, that's how you hold games. You've got to pay the price and our guys did."
Former Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond made 26 saves for Iowa.