Dmitrij Jaskin scored just 1:06 into overtime as the Chicago Wolves overcame two separate two-goal deficits to defeat the Rochester Americans, 4-3, in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals Friday at The Blue Cross Arena. With the win, the Wolves take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series heading into Saturday’s Game 2 back in Rochester.
The Amerks held a 3-1 advantage with just under five minutes remaining in regulation, but Chicago fought back with goals from Sebastian Wannstrom and Mark Cundari to force overtime before Jaskin, who was reassigned from St. Louis earlier in the day, eventually won it.
Joel Armia (1+1) and Chad Ruhwedel (0+2) each recorded two points in their American Hockey League playoff debuts while Nick Deslauriers and Luke Adam rounded out the scoring for the Amerks. Starting for the 11th time in 12 games, rookie goaltender Andrey Makarov made 35 saves in his professional postseason debut, snapping a personal seven-game winning streak dating back to April 2 of the regular season.
Brent Regner also scored for the visiting Wolves and Jake Allen stopped 26 saves to earn his first postseason victory. Mark Cundari also scored for Chicago while Shane Harper, Pat Cannone and Michael Davis all finished with a pair of assists in the win for the Wolves, which extended their win streak to five straight games.
The Amerks tested Allen early and the AHL’s most outstanding goalie was up to the task. Despite a number of scoring chances on two early power-plays from Rochester, Allen kept the game scoreless with some tough saves.
Rochester would eventually solve Allen with 5:51 remaining in the first after Nick Crawford hopped off the bench and scooted into the offensive zone just as the puck was coming around the boards. Crawford wasted no time with the puck, throwing a high shot at the net that was deflected by Armia through Allen’s legs.
After coming up empty on their first two power-play chances, the Amerks finally broke through with 4:09 left in the first when Deslauriers’ wrist shot from the point snuck through a screen in front and found the top corner to put the Rochester up by two goals.
Chicago would cut into the two-goal lead with a power-play goal of its own late in the period, when Regner’s slap-shot from the blueline took an awkward bounce and skipped through the Amerks defense past Makarov.
As the physical play picked up early in the second period, Adam took a hard check from Tyler Shattock at center ice but drew a boarding penalty and on the ensuing man-advantage, Adam made the Wolves pay. After receiving a pass from Ruhwedel down the right wing, Adam, who led the Amerks with 29 goals during the regular season, streaked into the corner and fired a sharp angle shot that fooled Allen and put the Amerks up 3-1.
Midway through the third period, Chicago nearly cut Rochester’s lead to a single goal when Harper picked up a loose puck following a turnover and cut right to the front of the net. Harper attempted to jam the puck across the line and nearly succeeded, but the officials immediately waved off the play, signaling that Makarov was pushed into the net.
The Wolves bounced back from the disallowed play to score their second goal with 4:50 left in regulation to cut the Amerks lead to one, as Regner’s dump-in took a funny hop off of the end-boards behind the Rochester net right to Wannstrom, who beat the unsuspecting Makarov to bring Chicago within a goal.
With 2:19 remaining in the third period, Chicago tied the score at three apiece when Cundari flipped a loose puck over Makarov into the net, effectively sending the game to sudden death overtime.
The Wolves completed their comeback on the first shot of the overtime session, with Jaskin serving as the hero after he jammed home a loose puck from the left edge of the crease to give Chicago the 4-3 win.
The Amerks look to even things up when they take on the Wolves on Saturday, April 26 in Game 2 of the best-of-five series at The Blue Cross Arena. Game time is set for 7:05 p.m.
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