Special Teams Leads Iowa to 5-2 Win against Chicago
DES MOINES, IOWA - Forward Luke Johnson's three power-play goals and forward Sam Anas' three power-play assists fueled Iowa Wild's (35-16-3-3; 76 pts.) 5-2 victory Tuesday night against the Chicago Wolves (26-25-3-2; 57 pts.).
Forward Mason Shaw gave the Wild a 1-0 lead just 96 seconds into the contest on his third tally of the season. Defenseman Brennan Menell glided into the zone and slid a pass to Shaw at the blueline. Shaw then skated to the top of the left circle before using the Chicago defenders as a screen and wristed a shot over the glove of goaltender Oscar Dansk (31 saves).
The Wild made it a 2-0 game as Iowa converted on the power play at 6:58 in the opening frame. Johnson took a shot from the top of the left circle that deflected off a stick of a Chicago defender, then off the skate of a Chicago defender and then over Dansk's glove for the tally. Menell and Anas earned the assists on the play.
Iowa's power play once again found the back of the net as the team extended its first-period lead to 3-0 at 15:02 in the stanza. Anas sent a cross-ice pass to Johnson at the top of the left circle, where the forward rifled a shot short, beating Dansk. Forward Connor Dewar logged his 11th helper of the season with the secondary assist.
At the conclusion of the first period, Iowa led 3-0 and had a 12-7 shot lead.
Chicago got on the board at 5:44 in the second period as forward Gage Quinney scored his 15th of the season. Forward Brandon Pirri took a shot from the right sideboards that ricocheted off Quinney's skate and into the back of the net. The referees initially waved off the goal but after video review, awarded the tally to Quinney.
The Wolves cut Iowa's lead to 3-2 at 8:04 in the middle frame off a goal from forward Tye McGinn. Defenseman Nic Hague sent a pass to McGinn at the high slot and he snapped a shot past goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen (21 saves) for his 16th of the season.
Iowa pushed its lead back to two as forward Dmitry Sokolov gave the Wild a 4-2 advantage at 15:59 in the second stanza, immediately following a successful penalty kill by Chicago. Defenseman Matt Bartkowski skated in on a 2-on-1 and shuttled a pass to Sokolov at the left post for the easy tap-in, his 15th goal of the year. Defenseman Louie Belpedio earned the secondary assist on the play.
Johnson completed his hat trick, with all three goals coming on the power play, at 19:52 in the second to give the Wild a 5-2 lead. Anas threaded a pass to Johnson inside the left circle and he lasered a shot over Dansk's glove for the tally. Johnson's hat trick was the first of his pro career and the second for the Wild this season and marked the first time in Wild history a player scored three power-play goals in a single contest.
Heading into the third period, Iowa led 5-2 and had a 30-14 shot advantage.
Neither team scored in the final frame and after 60 minutes of play, Iowa skated away with the 5-2 victory, moving within five points of Milwaukee for first place in the Central Division. The Wild went 3-for-5 on the power play and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill and outshot the Wolves 36-23.
With his three assists tonight, Anas moved into first place in the AHL in points (63) and Menell's two assists gave him 38 on the season, which ranks first among all AHL defensemen and second in the entire league only behind Anas' 45. Iowa is the first team since Hershey in 2011-12 to have two players leading the AHL in both assists and points by Feb. 26.
Kahkonen's victory is his 24th of the season, which leads the AHL and his 10th win in his last 12 starts. Since Jan. 20, Kahkonen is 10-1-1 with a 1.41 goals against average, a .954 save percentage and four shutouts, which ranks first in all categories among qualified goalies during that stretch.
Iowa now embarks on a six-game road trip, beginning with a contest Saturday night against the Stockton Heat. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. CT.
The Iowa Wild 2019-20 regular season is presented by MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center and runs from October through April. For more information, please contact the Wild office by calling 515-564-8700 or by visiting www.iowawild.com.
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