ROSEMONT, Ill. – Chicago Wolves forward Magnus Paajarvi’s goal with one second left forced overtime, but Utica recovered to earn a 3-2 victory at 3:10 of the second extra period Wednesday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals at Allstate Arena.
Paajarvi scored both goals for the eighth-seeded Wolves, who rallied after surrendering two goals in the opening 10:28. Chicago and Utica return to Allstate Arena for Game 2 at 7 p.m. Friday.
“That game could have gone either way,” said Wolves head coach John Anderson. “It’s just one game. Let’s strap it on again Friday.”
Top-seeded Utica needed just 1 minute, 56 seconds to open the scoring as the Wolves couldn’t control the puck in their zone. Cal O’Reilly fed the puck to Hunter Shinkaruk just outside the crease and the forward flipped a backhand over goaltender Jordan Binnington’s glove.
The Comets boosted their lead to 2-0 at 10:28 when Nicklas Jensen and Darren Archibald worked a give-and-go down the left side that ended with Jensen elevating a quick blast from the left circle past Binnington’s glove.
The Wolves cut the margin to 2-1 on Paajarvi’s goal 1:25 into the third. Paajarvi used his speed to carry the puck into the zone and below the goal line. Brendan Bell wound up with it along the left half-wall and fired at goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who gave up a rebound into the slot. Pat Cannone corralled it and fed it to Paajarvi in the lower left circle for a quick shot on an open net.
Chicago pulled Binnington with just more than a minute to go in regulatioin and used the 6-on-5 advantage to force overtime.
The Comets tried to freeze the puck along the left half-wall in the waning seconds, but Adam Cracknell forced the puck free and Cannone sent it back to the point. Bell passed it to the right faceoff dot for Paajarvi, who ripped a wrister off the left post, the right post and in for his second goal of the period.
Utica earned the win 3:10 into the second overtime as Shinkaruk dug out the puck behind the net. Grenier tried to jam it through Binnington’s pads, but the rebound bounced into the slot and defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti flew in to swat it into the net.
Markstrom (1-0-0) stopped 30 of 32 shots to pick up the win while Binnington (0-0-1) rejected 37 shots in a row as part of his 38-save effort.
The Wolves and Utica resume their Western Conference Quarterfinals with Game 2 at 7 p.m. Friday at Allstate Arena. To get the best Calder Cup ticket deals, visit ChicagoWolves.com or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.
-courtesy of Chicago Wolves