27 January 2010

Wolves Roar To 5-2 Win Over Houston

Chicago (27-17-0-2) has won nine of its last 10 games in a steady climb back into playoff contention. The club now holds fourth place in the West Division, just two points behind first-place Milwaukee with a game in hand.

The Wolves offense sparked for five goals for the second straight game with help from forwards Jason Krog (G, 2A), Tim Stapleton (G, A), Brett Sterling (2G) and Joey Crabb (G), while goaltender Kari Lehtonen (1-1-0), posted 25 saves in the second outing of his conditioning stint from the Atlanta Thrashers.

“Our power play was very crisp. We’re very sharp overall right now,” said Wolves Head Coach Don Lever. “We stayed out of the penalty box, which was key since their power play has been very good lately.”

Chicago used a power-play goal to spring out to a 1-0 lead, 7:06 into the contest. Stapleton controlled the puck high in the slot and held on as two Aeros defenders went down to block his shot, before driving in and slipping a pass across to Krog to bang into the empty corner of the net.

The Wolves increased their lead to 2-0 at 8:36 of the opening frame with a marker from Stapleton. Defenseman Paul Postma cranked a shot from near the blue line and Stapleton got his blade on it, deflecting it up over Aeros netminder Wade Dubielewicz.

Houston (22-18-6-1) used a marker from Colton Gillies, who flipped a shot under Lehtonen from the right face-off circle, to pull within one, 2-1, at 15:38 of the first period.

Chicago advanced its lead to 3-1 when center Johnny Pohl slipped a pass down to left wing Brett Sterling at the left corner of the crease, which Sterling one-timed past Dubielewicz at 12:02 of the second period.

Dubielewicz (11-10-0) turned aside 29 shots for Houston.

Crabb padded the Chicago lead, 4-1, at the 7:46 mark of the third period when he came streaking across the crease at the perfect time to bank in a pass Riley Holzapfel was sending across the goal mouth.

The Aeros added a marker from Jean-Michel Daoust off a face-off win with 7:20 remaining to play, but Sterling knocked the puck into the empty net at 15:17 of the final frame to round out scoring, 5-2.

The Wolves travel to Michigan to face the Grand Rapids Griffins at Van Andel Arena on Friday at 6 p.m.

Houston 1 0 1 -- 2

Chicago 2 1 2 -- 5

First Period---1, Chicago, Krog 9 (Stapleton, Pohl), 7:06 pp; 2, Chicago, Stapleton 23 (Postma, Anderson), 8:36; 3, Houston, Gillies 3 (Milroy, Fraser), 15:38 pp. Penalties---Testwuide, Houston (interference), 6:33; Sterling, Chicago (tripping), 14:05.

Second Period---4, Chicago, Sterling 24 (Pohl, Krog), 12:02. Penalties---Sifers, Houston (fighting), 5:04; Machacek, Chicago (fighting), 5:04; Kassian, Houston (cross-checking), 6:44.

Third Period---5, Chicago, Crabb 14 (Holzapfel, Postma), 7:46 pp; 6, Houston, Daoust 16 (Rau, Irmen), 12:40; 7, Chicago, Sterling 25 (Krog, Stewart), 15:17 en. Penalties---Falk, Houston (double-minor roughing), 5:52; Stewart, Chicago (roughing), 5:52;

Shots on goal---Houston: 10-7-10--27. Chicago: 11-11-12--34. Power plays---Houston: 1-1. Chicago: 2-3. Goalies---Houston, Dubielewicz (29-33). Chicago, Lehtonen (25-27). A---4,626. Referee---Kyle Rehman. Linesmen---Bryan Pancich and Jesse Pletsch.