ROSEMONT, Ill.---The Chicago Wolves tied the score at two with 7:14 remaining in the game, but the Rockford IceHogs grabbed the game-winning goal 3:20 later to earn a 3-2 Illinois Lottery Cup victory Friday night at the Allstate Arena.
Forwards Bill Sweatt and Tim Miller scored for Chicago, which dropped its first home tilt in five outings and saw its four-game winning streak snapped.
“We got out of sync in the second period and it ended up costing us,” said Wolves head coach Craig MacTavish. “We got away from the things we have been doing so well lately.”
The verdict put a damper on Wolves captain Nolan Baumgartner’s 1,000th professional game. The popular defenseman will be honored Saturday during a pregame ceremony.
With Chicago (30-19-1-3) trailing 2-1 in the third period, Miller was able to knot the score at 2-2 at 12:46. Center Steve Reinprecht’s shot from the near point was stopped by Rockford goaltender Carter Hutton, but he coughed up a rebound. Miller was perched on the doorstep and flipped the puck into an empty net.
Rockford center Brandon Pirri grabbed the game-winning tally with 3:54 remaining in the contest. He skated into the Wolves zone one-on-one with a Chicago defender and snapped a wrister over the glove of screened goaltender Eddie Lack.
Chicago opened scoring at 14:34 of the opening frame with an unlikely goal. Sweatt sent a shot through the crease and a Rockford defender slapped the shot away toward the back boards behind the net. The puck bounced off the boards to the top of the net, trickled over the net, bounced off Rockford goaltender Carter Hutton’s back and crossed the goal line.
Hutton (11-8-2) stopped 22 shots to earn the win for Rockford (22-26-2-4).
Rockford knotted the score at 1-1 4:32 into the second period. Left wing Brandon Svendsen held the puck behind the Wolves net and fed defensemen Joe Lavin in the high slot. Lavin slipped a one-timer under Lack’s pads.
The IceHogs grabbed a 2-1 lead less than four minutes later when Lack misplayed the puck behind the net. Svendsen intercepted the pass and his shot was stopped by a recovering Lack, but the rebound sat in the crease and right wing Matt Fornataro jammed the puck home at 8:14.
Lack (14-13-3) earned 32 saves as he lost for just the second time in seven starts.
The Wolves close their five-game homestand with a battle against the Abbotsford Heat at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Allstate Arena.
Rockford 0 2 1 -- 3
Chicago 1 0 1 -- 2
First Period---1, Chicago, Sweatt 12 (unassisted), 14:34. Penalties---Froese, Rockford (fighting), 2:38; Connauton, Chicago (fighting), 2:38; Morin, Rockford (roughing), 6:30; Clackson, Chicago (roughing), 6:30; Shaw, Rockford (tripping), 7:00; Clackson, Chicago (tripping), 8:38; Stanton, Rockford (slashing), 9:10; Bollig, Rockford (unsportsmanlike conduct), 14:34; Clackson, Chicago (unsportsmanlike conduct), 14:34; Youds, Rockford (cross-checking), 18:41.
Second Period---2, Rockford, Lavin 3 (Svendsen, Froese), 4:32; 3, Rockford, Fornataro 6 (Svendsen, Froese), 8:14. Penalties---Miller, Chicago (cross-checking), 2:29; Fahey, Rockford (tripping), 10:08; Schroeder, Chicago (tripping), 16:49.
Third Period---4, Chicago, Miller 16 (Reinprecht), 12:46; 5, Rockford, Pirri 21 (Shaw), 16:06; Penalties---Lalonde, Rockford (delay of game), 8:05;
Shots on goal---Rockford: 8-18-9--35. Chicago: 13-4-7--24. Power plays---Rockford: 0-3; Chicago: 0-5. Goalies---Rockford, Hutton (22-24); Chicago, Lack (32-35). A---9,510. Referee---Mark Lemelin. Linesmen---Al Stensland and Roger Behling.