ROSEMONT, Ill.—The Chicago Wolves manufactured two power-play goals late in the second period and added an empty-net tally to rally for a 4-2 victory over Rochester in the decisive Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on Sunday afternoon at Allstate Arena.
Defenseman Brent Regner and left wing Dmitrij Jaskin delivered the tying and game-winning power-play goals, respectively, and goaltender Jake Allen (3-2) stopped 21 shots to earn the victory in the winner-take-all game.
The second-seeded Wolves advance to host third-seeded Toronto in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 9, at Allstate Arena.
“I thought we deserved to win today,” said Wolves head coach John Anderson. “I think we were playing really well, but then we took it into another gear. We got desperate and we played harder and harder. I think we pinned them in their zone for lengths of time there and I think we wore them down.”
The Wolves opened the scoring at 2:02 of the first period on right wing Shane Harper’s first goal of the playoffs. Harper claimed the puck at the left point, fed it to Sebastian Wannstrom in the left circle and then darted for the slot. Wannstrom passed up a shot in order to feed Harper for a one-timer that zipped between goaltender Andrey Makarov’s skates.
Rochester seized a 2-1 lead by converting their first two power-play opportunities. The Americans knotted the score at 15:21 of the first on Brayden Irwin’s third goal of the series. Center Phil Varone carried the puck into the Wolves zone and deliberately banked it off the left side boards for Luke Adam, who delivered a pass right on the doorstep to Irwin for the tap past Allen.
Adam gave Rochester a 2-1 lead at 2:01 of the second period when he rifled a wrister from the left circle through heavy traffic for the Americans’ eighth power-play goal of the series.
“I didn’t even see the second one go in,” Allen said. “But if it goes in the net, it doesn’t matter how. You’ve just got to rebound. I told myself after that I wasn’t letting them score again.”
The Wolves returned the favor late in the second period with a pair of power-play goals within a 2-minute, 5-second stretch. After an extended assault in the Rochester zone, Michael Davies tried a wraparound move that wound up sending the puck directly to Regner for a hard wrister from the top of the right circle at 17:28.
The Wolves took a 3-2 lead at 19:33 as Keith Aucoin threaded a pass from the left corner between a Rochester defenseman’s skates to Jaskin, who flashed to the top of the crease and knocked the puck past Makarov.
Defenseman Taylor Chorney steered home an empty-net goal from the neutral zone with 1:01 to play to set off a mob scene on the Wolves bench.
Makarov (2-3) stopped 32 of 35 shots in the loss.