Leivo lights the lamp late to lift Wolves

Photo: Ross Dettman

Josh Leivo scored with 17.2 seconds left to send the Chicago Wolves to a dramatic 3-2 victory over the Stockton Heat in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals on Monday night.

With the Wolves up two games to none, the best-of-seven series moves west to Stockton for Game 3 on Wednesday night.

Jesper Sellgren deflected a Heat pass out to neutral ice, where Leivo picked it up behind the Stockton defense, raced in on a breakaway and scored his league-leading ninth goal of the playoffs.

Leivo also leads the AHL with 17 points this postseason, finding the scoresheet in each of Chicago’s first nine games.

The game-winner bookended Jack Drury’s goal just 17 seconds into the contest, giving the Wolves a 1-0 lead for the second straight game.

Eetu Tuulola scored a shorthanded goal for Stockton to tie the game at 1-1 at the 6:57 mark of the first period, and Justin Kirkland extended his scoring streak to seven games with a goal at 7:20 of the second.

As they did in Game 1, the Wolves came from behind, tying things up at 11:00 of the second period on Noel Gunler’s first playoff goal. Gunler, a second-round pick by Carolina in the 2020 NHL Draft, had three goals and two assists in 11 regular-season games after joining the Wolves from the Swedish Hockey League in April.

Pyotr Kochetkov got his first start of the AHL postseason and made 33 saves for Chicago. Kochetkov had been in the NHL since mid-April, including four appearances for the Hurricanes during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Dustin Wolf (6-3) finished with 18 saves in defeat.

C1-Chicago Wolves vs. P1-Stockton Heat
Game 1 – Fri., June 3 – CHICAGO 5, Stockton 4 (OT)
Game 2 – Mon., June 6 – CHICAGO 3, Stockton 2
Game 3 – Wed., June 8 – Chicago at Stockton, 9:30
Game 4 – Fri., June 10 – Chicago at Stockton, 10:00
*Game 5 – Sat., June 11 – Chicago at Stockton, 9:00
*Game 6 – Tue., June 14 – Stockton at Chicago, 8:00
*Game 7 – Wed., June 15 – Stockton at Chicago, 8:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern