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Mayhew stays hot, helps Iowa even series with Chicago

Wild forward buries two goals as Central Division Finals head to Game 5 on Friday tied 2-2

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe / Wild.com

DES MOINES -- With a suite full of scouts, Minnesota Wild General Manager Paul Fenton and owner Craig Leipold all in attendance, Gerry Mayhew had quite an audience on hand for yet another clutch performance in a big spot.

Mayhew, arguably the Wild's MVP during the regular season -- and no doubt so far in the Calder Cup Playoffs -- made another big impression by scoring both of Iowa's goals in a 2-1 win over the Chicago Wolves in Game 4 of the Central Division Finals Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Arena.

The best-of-7 series is now tied at two games apiece with a crucial Game 5 set for Friday night in Des Moines.

Mayhew is now has a postseason-leading nine goals in nine playoff games, including five in four games so far this series. This after setting a team record with 27 goals during the regular season.

"It's been fun to watch," said Wild goaltender Andrew Hammond. "Now, it's almost like if he goes a game without a goal, it's 'What's wrong with him?' But when you're scoring at a rate that he is right now, it speaks to the whole line of what they do together. They're huge goals, every one, we've needed them."

After a suspiciously quiet -- by his standards -- effort in Game 3, Mayhew made plenty of noise early in Game 4, channelling his inner Bobby Orr for the game's opening tally 13:01 in. 

Tweet from @IAWild: AND ONE!#GerryTime scores the first of the night mid-trip to give us the lead! #CHIvsIA pic.twitter.com/WWB7p4kMLK

Mayhew gained control of the puck near the right-wing wall, charged to the middle of the rink and waited out Wolves goaltender Oscar Dansk, tripping head-first over a stick near the crease and flying through the air, all while shoving the puck into the goal.

It was a huge goal for Iowa, which improved to 5-0 this postseason when scoring the game's first goal. The Wild is 0-4 when it doesn't.

"I'm putting pucks on net and it's just finding my stick," Mayhew said. "

Mayhew -- all 5-foot-10, 175 pounds of him -- has no fear in going to the top of the crease. For a guy that scores as often as he does, a fair amount of his tallies come from scratching and clawing his way to the front of the net.

Video: Iowa evens series with Game 4 win

With Iowa clinging to a third-period lead, Mayhew struck again, this time hammering home a rebound from the doorstep. 

"I was born with it, really. I have a little bit of my mother in me. She's a real feisty one," Mayhew said. "I just have to keep continuing to battle and being a smaller guy, it's going to take a little more. But I enjoy it."

The series between the clubs has been exactly what was expected. 

After seven of the eight regular season games were virtual one-goal contests, all four postseason games have followed suit.

Even when Mayhew scored his second of the night to make it 2-0, one got the sense that the Wolves would eventually get it back within a goal.

Tweet from @IAWild: I'm running out of ways to say @alfano20 scored a goal. Not upset about it. #GerryTime scores his second of the night and NINTH of the playoffs. #CHIvsIA pic.twitter.com/z91gG7hFIG

They did, less than four minutes after Mayhew's tally, making it a one-goal deficit with still half a period remaining. 

Iowa, which trailed 2-0 in the series when it returned to Des Moines, came home with confidence that it could get it back to this point.

Game 1 was decided in overtime while Game 2 was a back-and-forth affair that could have gone either way as well. Iowa wasn't happy coming home down two games, but it was at least encouraged with its overall game.

On home ice, the Wild has managed to play from in front, which has helped its cause.

Video: Iowa: 'Energy bunny' providing playoff spark

"We played well and sometimes it doesn't go that way," Mayhew said. "Sometimes you win games when you don't play well and that's just the way it goes. You have to continue to just keep working."

That attitude has served Mayhew well as a pro. The second-year player graduated from Ferris State and is in Iowa on an AHL contract, but that hasn't managed to stop him from climbing to new heights in the American Hockey League. 

The question Iowa fans have now is whether Mayhew and the Wild can assume the driver's seat in a crucial Game 5 here in Friday.

"He's got a knack for scoring goals and going to the dirty areas," said Wild captain Cal O'Reilly, who assisted on both Mayhew goals. "He's raised his play even more than he did in the regular season. He's playing great."


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