IceHogs goaltender Corey Crawford was good, but Chicago Wolves goaltender Ondrej Pavelec was better as he led the Wolves to a 4-1 win over the IceHogs and a 1-0 lead in the AHL West Division Final Wednesday night at the Allstate Arena.
"He (Pavelec) made some good saves," Rockford head coach Mike Haviland said. "Our goaltender I thought played extremely well again."
Both Crawford and Pavelec made 29 saves but Crawford let in three goals.
Going into the game, Rockford was scoreless on the power play but also had not allowed a goal while on the penalty kill. The Wolves were able to capitalize on a power play in each period and went 4-for-7 on the power play. Rockford was 0-for-6.
Unfortunately for the IceHogs, two shorthanded breakaways, one by Kris Versteeg in the first and another by Martin St. Pierre in the second, came up short, as did a 5-on-3 in the first period.
"I didn't like some of the calls, I think that we just got our stick in areas we shouldn't have and we have to keep our sticks on the ice and play a lot more disciplined," said Haviland. "The other side of it is, we didn't play with desperation as a playoff game needs to be at times tonight."
Wolves defenseman Joel Kiatkowski opened the scoring on the power play with his first goal of the playoffs; defenseman Artus Kulda and center Jason Krog assisted on the goal. Krog assisted on Darren Haydar's power play goal in the second.
Krog had 21 points in 10 games against the IceHogs in the regular season. Martin St. Pierre, the IceHogs leading scorer against the Wolves, had four shots on goal.
After a relatively quiet first and second period, the pushing and shoving between the IceHogs and the Wolves began early in the third and was little more than a delay in the flow of the game until Fraser was sent to the box in the third for a five-minute high-sticking major.
The goal by Brett Sterling, with another assist by Krog, came just seven seconds after the power play ended.
IceHog forward Jack Skille scored his first game of the playoffs from Petri Kontiola and Troy Brouwer to make the score 3-1 late in the third. Skille had only one assist in the first five games of the first series.
"I know for myself it was an ice breaker. Hopefully now I can provide more for the team," Skille said. "We have to stay out of the box, that's the biggest thing. Hopefully we do that next game."
Kwiatkowski added an empty-netter with just over a minute remaining to end the game 4-1.
Going into the next game "we'll try to do something different, give it a different look," Haviland said. "We have to come back here, try to get a split here and move forward."
"We have to stay out of the box," defenseman Jim Fahey said, echoing the same sentiment as Haviland and Skille. "It's going to be a battle."