ROSEMONT, Ill. — Toronto capitalized on its first two power-play chances and didn’t flinch when the Chicago Wolves rallied to post a 5-2 victory Friday night at Allstate Arena in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
Center Peter Holland paced the Marlies with 1 goal and 2 assists. Forwards Christian Hanson and Michael Davies scored for the Wolves, who host Game 2 of the best-of-seven series at 7 p.m. Saturday.
“We took the first three penalties and we didn’t want to take any,” said Wolves head coach John Anderson. “You can’t get down 3-nothing and expect to come back every time. We were pretty calm, we thought we still had a chance. That’s what I like about our team, but the reality is that’s just a little too much to come back from.”
Toronto opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 10:54 of the first period. The Marlies won a faceoff and Holland fed the puck below the goal line to Josh Leivo, who shoved it to center Trevor Smith near the crease. Smith deked to his backhand and flipped it past Wolves goaltender Jake Allen.
The Marlies produced another power-play goal while enjoying a 5-on-3 advantage at 14:55 of the first. Two Wolves defenders went hard to the side wall to try to clear the puck out of the zone, but Toronto claimed possession and moved the puck to set up a numerical advantage in the middle of the ice. T.J. Brennan’s pass set up Holland in the slot for a backhand flip at close range for a 2-0 lead.
Toronto’s lead moved to 3-0 at 5:02 of the second on Greg McKegg’s snapper into the top left corner of the net. Leivo set him up by swiping the puck in the neutral zone, skating into the Wolves zone and feeding McKegg at the top of the left circle.
The Wolves cut the margin to 3-1 on Hanson’s goal at 10:04 of the second. Mark Cundari launched a slap shot from inside the blue line that banged off the back boards to Hanson, who was stationed by the right post and lifted the rebound over Toronto goaltender Drew MacIntyre’s leg. Cundari and Sebastian Wannstrom earned the assists.
Chicago pulled within 3-2 at 17:26 on Davies’ first postseason goal. Defenseman Jani Hakanpaa fired a two-line outlet pass to Ty Rattie near the Toronto blue line. Rattie re-directed a no-look pass to Davies, who rushed ahead of the Toronto defense and lifted a shot over MacIntyre from just outside the crease.
Toronto regained its two-goal lead at 3:53 of the third on Carter Ashton’s inadvertent goal. He raced in on Allen and lost possession as he attempted his shot. The puck was headed left of the frame, but banked off Allen’s outstretched stick into the net.
Allen (3-3) stopped 30 of 35 shots in the loss. MacIntyre (4-0) posted 37 saves in his first game against the Wolves since playing for Chicago from 2009-11.