The Denmark native built on his three goal performance in the Chicago Wolves’ final game of the regular season with a two goal playoff debut, but it was not enough as the Wolves dropped Game 1, 5-4 in overtime to the San Antonio Rampage.
Bill Sweatt and Tim Miller also tallied for the Wolves, who had leads of 3-1 and 4-2 but were not able to prevent the Rampage offense from pulling even and sending the game to overtime where Colby Robak beat Eddie Lack giving the Rampage a 1-0 series lead.
The Wolves only managed to beat Rampage goaltender Jacob Markstrom twice in two games during the regular season, but got to the Florida Panthers 2008 second round pick three times in the opening frame. The Wolves opened the scoring when a Jordan Schroeder shot rebounded off Markstrom and bounced off Sweatt’s shoulder and in. The Rampage would even things up shortly after as James Wright came off the bench undetected and took a feed from behind the net and beat Lack. The Wolves would regain the lead shortly after – 43 seconds later to be exact – on a goal by Tim Miller, who took a nice pass from Darren Haydar and slid the puck between the legs of Markstrom. The Wolves would get their first power play late in the frame and made good on the attempt as Haydar, again with a nice pass, this time to Jensen and the 19-year-old didn’t get a lot on the shot, but enough to find the back of the net and send the Wolves to the dressing room with a 3-1 lead.
The Rampage pulled within one in the early going of the second period on a goal by Drew Shore, but Jensen would restore the two goal lead less than three minutes later with his second of the night. Behind some strong goaltending from Markstrom, the Rampage were able to claw their way back into it as Jon Matsumoto made it 4-3 with Wolves’ winger Mike Duco in the penalty box for slashing. San Antonio came out firing in the third and Matsumoto again beat Lack to even things at four just over five minutes into the period. The two teams would trade chances in the final 10 minutes, but both the highly touted Swedish goaltending prospects would stand tall forcing the game into overtime.
The Wolves had numerous chances to end the game in the extra frame, but Markstrom stood tall, making a couple circus-like saves to keep the action alive on his way to a 33 save performance. The Wolves penalty killers would be tested early in overtime and prevailed with a big kill holding the Rampage power play to just one shot. Then with less than seven minutes to go in the first overtime Wolves’ defenseman Kevin Connauton’s clearing attempt found its way over the glass sending the Rampage to another power play. This time they were able to beat Lack as Robak found the back of the net giving the Rampage a 5-4 win in Game 1 of the best-of-five series.
The Wolves will have a day to regroup before Game 2, which goes Saturday night in San Antonio. After Game 2 the remainder of the series will be played in Chicago.
-With a goal in the first and second period, Nicklas Jensen had gone five consecutive periods finding the back of the net dating back to the final game of the regular season
-Eddie Lack finished with 32 saves on the night
-Veteran Darren Haydar is now the all-time leader in AHL playoff assists (78), he was already the all-time leader in playoff goals (59), and playoff points (137)
-Kevin Connauton had a game-high six shots on goal
-Jordan Schroeder (plus-2), Brad Hunt (plus-2), and Bill Sweatt (plus-1) were the only Wolves to have a positive plus/minus
-Haydar (2), Kevin Doell (2), Hunt, Mark Mancari and Ryan Parent picked up assists for the Wolves
-Rookie Anton Rodin missed the game with an injury, he was hit hard into the boards in the regular season finale and did not return
-Newly acquired Canucks prospects Frank Corrado and Taylor Matson suited up for their first professional playoff game
-Two years ago to the day (April 19, 2010), a then 19-year-old Jordan Schroeder recorded a hat trick with the Manitoba Moose in a game three win over Hamilton
3 Stars: 1. SA, Robak 2. SA, Matsumoto 3. SA, Wright