01/04/2008 3:10 PM
The Hogs finally beat the Wolves after three losses to their I-90 rival. Photo by Greg Hamil
Rockford takes three-point lead in AHL's West Division
Rockford, Ill.- Maybe it took an invitation to the MetroCentre for the IceHogs to figure out the Chicago Wolves. The Hogs beat the Wolves 5-4 in dramatic fashion for the first time in four meetings.
Troy Brouwer's team-leading 17th goal of the season, with assists from Martin St. Pierre and Prestin Ryan, put the Hogs on top for good at 1:37 in the third period, but the Wolves would make it interesting right up to the final buzzer.
Mike Blunden added some insurance at 14:09 with assists from Colin Fraser and Ryan Stokes, but Chicago's Jason Krog powered through a goal at 15:45 to put a tie back within site. Nathan Oystrick had the assist.
To add an extra little drama, the final two minutes of the game were played under an open-net 5-on-4 when offsetting penalties from Bryan Little and Jordan Hendry put those two players in the box.
But the Wolves could not solve Corey Crawford one more time and the Hogs could not drop the puck in the bucket despite two close shots from the red line.
The lead changed three times during the game, including two ties, as Rockford and Chicago fought hard for the top spot in the West.
In the second period, Sergei Samsonov, who was sent down from the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday, tied the contest at 3 with a power play goal at 5:45. St. Pierre extended his consecutive games with a point streak to a team-leading 15 by adding the helper.
In the first, The IceHogs took an early 2-0 lead but couldn't hold it.
Niklas Hjalmarsson pushed the puck through the goal with an assist from Troy Brouwer at just 53 seconds into the game to put the Hogs up 1-0. Gavin Morgan followed it up with a goal of his own at 5:38 in the first period with an assist from Bryan Bickell.
The two goals were the first of the season for those shooters, who both sat with injuries for a significant part of the first half of the season.
Then Chicago's Oystrick punched the puck past Corey Crawford on a power play to make the score 2-1 at 9:02 in the first.
And the Wolves, who are second in the AHL with a 24.3 power play percentage, put another one on the board with an advantage goal at 16:33. Jesse Schultz put the puck in the back of the net with assists from Joel Kwiatkowski and Karel Pilar.
Krog made the score 3-2 with a breakaway goal past Crawford at 18:59. The assists were by Schultz and Oystrick.
Crawford had 26 saves to end his personal losing streak at two, while Chicago's Ondrej Pavelec handled 31 shots. The Wolves showed why they lead the Western Conference in power plays, going 2-for-6. The IceHogs finished 1-for-5.