ROSEMONT, Ill. – Left wing Magnus Paajarvi rifled home a pair of goals to lead the Chicago Wolves to a 4-1 victory over Rockford on Saturday night before 16,280 at Allstate Arena.
Right wing Shane Harper added his team-high 18th goal and Pat Cannone notched an empty-net score for the Wolves (22-17-5-1), who cut Rockford’s lead in the 12-game Illinois Lottery Cup series to 5-4. Chicago goaltender Jordan Binnington (13-8-3) posted 32 saves to earn the win.
“We had some really nice goals,” Wolves head coach John Anderson said. “Paajarvi’s goals and Harper’s goal – those were rockets. (Rockford goaltender Scott) Darling didn’t stand a chance on any of those.”
The Wolves opened the scoring at 3:46 of the first period when Paajarvi carried the puck into the offensive zone and ripped a shot from the top of the right circle that found a home in the top corner of the net. Philip McRae and Adam Burish earned assists on the play.
Chicago increased its lead to 2-0 at 5:21 of the second period as Terry Broadhurst carried the puck to the bottom of the right circle and spied Harper moving into the slot. Broadhurst’s backhand pass caught Harper in stride and he rifled a one-timer over Darling’s blocker.
Rockford (26-14-4-2) cut its deficit to 2-1 on Drew LeBlanc’s unassisted goal at 16:14 of the second. LeBlanc collected the puck just outside the blue line, skated into the left circle and issued a wrister that zipped between Binnington’s legs.
Paajarvi delivered his second goal of the game at 8:05 of the third period to lift the Wolves to a 3-1 lead. McRae found Paajarvi above the right circle and he lasered a wrister over Darling’s blocker for his first 2-goal game in the AHL.
Cannone posted an insurance marker when he swiped the puck at the red line in front of the Wolves bench and skittered home an empty-net goal at 19:00.
Darling (11-7-2) finished with 23 saves on 26 shots.
The Wolves return to Allstate Arena at 11 a.m. Tuesday for a School-Day Game against the Rochester Americans.