(chicagowolves.com) — Defenseman Joel Edmundson’s power-play goal 2:19 into overtime boosted the Chicago Wolves to a 4-3 victory over Utica on Friday night at a sold-out Utica Memorial Auditorium, forcing a winner-take-all Game 5 on Saturday.
Shane Harper set up Edmundson’s game-winner as he held the puck just to the right of goaltender Jacob Markstrom, saucered a pass across the crease over a prone Comets defenseman, and watched as Edmundson buried the shot from the bottom of the right circle.
The Wolves mauled each other on the ice and then celebrated their Game 4 win loudly in the visitors’ dressing room.
“This is definitely the biggest goal I’ve ever scored,” Edmundson said.
Edmundson’s winner was triggered by a Utica penalty for too many men on the ice and the Wolves’ top power-play unit executed a set play that has three options. Earlier in the game, Harper held the puck in the same place and fed Benn Ferriero in the slot for the second-period goal that gave the Wolves a 3-2 edge.
“I thought they were taking away Benn in the middle,” Harper said. “I thought maybe I should sauce it over and hit (Edmundson) on the back door and it worked out. I haven’t been that excited in a long while. We wanted that win so bad. The boys are coming together as a team. It was just a lot of fun.”
“The saga keeps going on,” said Wolves head coach John Anderson. “Just look back at the first game when we tied it up with one second left. That’s a good hockey team over there and we’re playing them tooth and nail. I love our give-a-care level. It’s been good the whole series.”
Top-seeded Utica opened the scoring on Cory Conacher’s power-play goal 6:43 into the night. Conacher found open space in the slot, received a pass from Cal O’Reilly and took advantage of Alexandre Grenier’s screen to skim the puck past Wolves goaltender Jordan Binnington’s glove.
The Wolves pulled even at 10:59 as Cracknell buried a rebound. Defenseman Petteri Lindbohm popped a shot from the left side that Markstrom parried to the right circle, but he had no chance to stop Cracknell’s quick release.
Utica took a 2-1 lead on Adam Clendening’s rebound goal at 14:56 of the first. Sven Baertschi stole a cross-ice pass in the Comets zone and went on a breakaway. Though Baertschi’s shot banged off the right post, Clendening was there to clean up the rebound.
Clendening helped the Wolves tie it 2-2 with 1:21 gone in the second. Brodeur wristed a shot from the left circle that Clendening, standing outside the crease, redirected past an unsuspecting Markstrom.
Ferriero pushed the Wolves to a 3-2 lead with a power-play goal at 12:26 of the second. Harper worked the puck below the goal line and fed it to Ferriero heading toward the net from the left circle. Markstrom blocked Ferriero’s first attempt, but the former Comets forward kept charging and flipped the rebound home.
Utica forged the game’s third tie at 5:05 of the final frame as the Comets took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play. Defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti’s slap shot from the left circle clanged home to make it 3-3 and force overtime.
Binnington (2-2) stopped 35 of 38 shots to earn the win. Markstrom (2-2) rejected 28 of 32, and lost for the first time in five career playoff overtime games against the Wolves.
Western Conference Quarterfinals – Series “E” (best-of-5)
1-Utica Comets vs. 8-Chicago Wolves
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 22 – Utica 3, CHICAGO 2 (2OT)
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 24 – CHICAGO 2, Utica 1
Game 3 – Wed., Apr. 29 – UTICA 2, Chicago 1 (OT)
Game 4 – Fri., May 1 – Chicago 4, UTICA 3 (OT)
Game 5 – Sat., May 2 – Chicago at Utica, 7:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern