A pair of second-period power-play goals just 2:05 apart proved to be the difference maker as the Chicago Wolves erased a 2-1 deficit and claimed a 4-2 win over the Rochester Americans in Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals at Allstate Arena. The Wolves win the best-of-five series 3-2 and eliminate the Amerks from the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs.
VIDEO: GAME 5 HIGHLIGHTS
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Luke Adam (1+1) and Phil Varone (0+2) led the way offensively with two-point nights while Brayden Irwin also found the back of the net with his third goal of the series. Rookie defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen finished with an assist and Andrey Makarov, who appeared in all five playoff games for Rochester, closed out the postseason with 32 saves on 35 shots.
Dmitrij Jaskin paced Chicago with a goal and an assist while Shane Harper and Brent Regner each tallied for the second time of the series before Taylor Chorney netted the series-clinching goal with an empty-netter in the final minute of regulation. Reigning AHL Goalie of the Year Jake Allen made 21 saves in the win, cementing the Wolves’ second-round meeting against the three-time North Division champion Toronto Marlies.
While the Amerks struck for two quick goals in the first period of Game 4 on Friday night, it was Chicago that got out to an early lead in Game 5. Harper created a turnover along the left half-wall in the Rochester zone and slid the puck to Sebastian Wannstrom. Harper immediately cut to the net and received a return pass from Wannstrom, which he quickly snapped past Makarov for the goal at 2:02 of the opening period.
Irwin tallied his third goal of the postseason to tie the game late in the first period, just 20 seconds into Rochester’s first power-play chance of the game. Adam skated the puck into the zone along the left-wing boards and sent a perfect pass to the far post for Irwin, who re-directed the puck past Allen for the equalizer, and the teams skated into the first intermission locked at one apiece. Varone also assisted on the power-play goal, which came at 15:21 of the first.
The Amerks took their first lead of the game with another power-play goal early in the second period. Adam walked the puck into the Chicago zone and eluded a pair of Wolves penalty killers with some nifty stick-handling, dragging the puck away from a defender and then snapping a shot past Allen for the goal. The goal, which came just 2:01 into the second, was assisted on by Varone and Ristolainen.
After each team created several odd-man rushes throughout the second period, it remained a 2-1 game until the closing minutes of the middle frame when Chicago scored back-to-back power-play goals. First, Regner got a puck past Makarov with the goaltender down on the ice and fighting traffic. Makarov made two saves from in close, creating a wild scramble in front of the Rochester net. With multiple players battling in front of the crease, the puck popped out to Regner at the top of the right circle and, with Makarov still on the ice, the Chicago defenseman fired a shot high into the Amerks net to tie the game at 17:28. Michael Davies and Jaskin were credited with the assists.
Chicago re-gained its lead on another man-advantage opportunity with just 27 seconds remaining in the second. Keith Aucoin held the puck in the left corner and sent a perfect centering pass into the slot for Jaskin, who poked it past Makarov for the tally as the Wolves took a one-goal lead into the third period.
Still down a goal with under two minutes left to play in the third period, the Amerks pulled Makarov in favor of an extra attacker looking to force overtime. Chorney, however, made a steal of a Nick Crawford pass deep in the Rochester zone, moved the puck out of harm’s way and sunk a long-range shot from beyond center ice to seal the win for the Wolves.
Rookie forward Joel Armia led the Amerks with three goals, three assists and six points during the playoffs, including a four-point game in Game 4 of the series. Chad Ruhwedel paced all Rochester defensemen with five points (2+3) after recording a goal and an assist in each of his first two postseason appearances. Makarov finished with a 2-3 record to go along with a 3.01 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage while appearing in all five games for the Amerks. Rochester was making its 44th postseason appearance in the 58-year history of the franchise.