CHICAGO 4, ROCKFORD 1
Four different players netted goals and rookie netminder Ondrej Pavelec stopped 38 of 39 shots as Chicago took Game 7 of the West Division finals over Rockford by a 4-1 final on Tuesday at the Allstate Arena.
The Wolves won back-to-back tilts to rally from a 3-2 series deficit and will host Toronto in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Friday.
The Wolves’ power play, which went 4-for-7 in Sunday’s Game 6, converted its first two opportunities on Tuesday. Jesse Schultz scored at 18:27 of the first period, and Jason Krog netted his fourth goal in the last three games 7:23 into the middle stanza.
Rookie Bryan Little extended the lead to 3-0 with a 5-on-5 goal at 8:57 of the third period.
The IceHogs finally got on the board at 13:22, as Kris Versteeg tallied his team-leading sixth goal of the playoffs to make it a 3-1 contest. But Chicago’s Colin Stuart put the game away with an empty-net marker with 1:24 left in regulation.
Joe Motzko chipped in a pair of assists for the Wolves, and Pavelec improved his postseason record to 8-5 with the victory. Chicago came away victorius despite being outshot 39-23 for the game, including 18-8 in the third period.
The Wolves moved to 10-4 all-time when facing Calder Cup Playoff elimination, including a 5-0 mark in winner-take-all contests.
Chicago advances to the conference finals for the second consecutive year and fourth out of seven seasons in the AHL. The Wolves won the Calder Cup in 2002 and made it back to the championship round in 2005.
While Chicago and Toronto are set to do battle in the Western Conference finals, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Portland will clash in the Eastern Conference championship series beginning on Wednesday.