Wolves Hold off T-Birds, 4-2, Move Within One Win of Cup
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The Springfield Thunderbirds fired 41 more shots on goal on Friday night, but could not overcome a stingy Chicago Wolves defense, as Chicago emerged with a 4-2 win in Game 4 of the Calder Cup Finals before a capacity crowd of 6,793 inside the MassMutual Center. The Wolves now lead the series three games to one and sit one victory away from the organization's first Calder Cup since 2008.
Things started strongly for goaltenders Joel Hofer and Pyotr Kochetkov, who each kept their opponents off the board for 17 minutes to start the game. Hofer had to come up with a penalty shot save as well, as he got the glove on Richard Panik's backhand try at 10:51 of the period.
However, as has continued to be the problem for Springfield all series, the Chicago power play took advantage of T-Birds' mistakes. First, Jack Drury stepped off the corner boards, walked in front and fired a change-up that surprised Hofer through his body to give the Wolves a 1-0 lead at 17:25. Chicago has now socred first in 15 of their first 17 playoff games.
2:22 later, with time dwindling down on the period, a breakdown in coverage gave Panik an open shot from the low slot, and the veteran tallied a goal in his fourth straight game in the series to make it 2-0 with just 12.1 seconds left in the frame.
Further hurting the T-Birds chances, Chicago captain Andrew Poturalski added to the lead with a wrist shot from the right circle that went off a Springfield stick before squeezing in past Hofer's glove side at 6:20 to push the Wolves' lead to 3-0.
Incredibly, the Wolves did themselves little in the way of favors, giving the home team four power plays in the second period alone. However, Springfield could only take advantage of the final one, as Klim Kostin finally sneaked a wrist shot in under the crossbar over Kochetkov's blocker shoulder to make it 3-1 with 3:07 left in the middle frame. It was Kostin's first goal since Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
A 21-shot Springfield second period gave way to a third period dominated by stout defensive play, as Chicago blocked countless T-Birds shot attempts and kept the T-Birds to just 10 attempts on Kochetkov.
Josh Leivo's league-leading 14th goal of the Calder Cup Playoffs into an empty net at 18:13 extended the Chicago advantage to 4-1. James Neal would get another one for the T-Birds with 1:47 to play, his fourth of the playoffs, but that would be all Springfield could muster in the late stages.
The two teams rematch on Saturday night in a pivotal Game 5 in Springfield. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. at the Thunderdome, with Springfield fighting to keep its season alive.
The full series schedule can be seen below:
Game 1: Sunday, June 19 - Thunderbirds 5, Wolves 4 (OT)
Game 2: Monday, June 20 - Wolves 6, Thunderbirds 2
Game 3: Wednesday, June 22 - Wolves 4, Thunderbirds 0
Game 4: Friday, June 24 - Wolves 4, Thunderbirds 2
Game 5: Saturday, June 25 - Wolves @ Thunderbirds, 7:05 p.m. ET - Click Here for Tickets
Game 6*: Tuesday, June 28 - Thunderbirds @ Wolves, 8:00 p.m. ET
Game 7*: Wednesday, June 29 - Thunderbirds @ Wolves, 8:00 p.m. ET
Thunderbirds Calder Cup Finals tickets are on sale now! To purchase your seats, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625) or visit www.SpringfieldThunderbirds.com.
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Springfield Thunderbirds battle the Chicago Wolves
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American Hockey League Stories from June 24, 2022
- Wolves One Win from Cup - Chicago Wolves
- Wolves Hold off T-Birds, 4-2, Move Within One Win of Cup - Springfield Thunderbirds
- Tom Kostopoulos Promoted by Pittsburgh - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
- Comets Announce More Player Signings for 2022-23 Season - Utica Comets
- Brattstrom Signs One-Year Contract Extension with Detroit - Grand Rapids Griffins
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