ROSEMONT, Ill. – The red hot Iowa Wild (20-12-4) continued their winning ways on Saturday night, dominating the Chicago Wolves in a 5-1 victory. For the second straight night, Gerald Mayhew scored two goals, as did Luke Johnson. Sam Anas also had a bout with déjà vu, adding three assists for the second straight evening. The victory was the seventh in the last eight for the Wild, moving the team eight points ahead of Chicago in the Central Division standings.
The game was scoreless through the first 15 minutes, but the Wild took a 2-0 lead thanks to a pair of tallies just 15 seconds apart. At the 15:17 mark, Brayden Pachal was called for holding, putting the Wild on the power play. The Wolves won the draw, but the clearing pass deflected over the boards, putting the faceoff right back in the Chicago end. That proved to be costly for the Wolves, as Johnson won the draw back to Anas. He passed it across the slot to Johnson who was just inside the left faceoff circle. The Iowa forward buried the one-timer for his sixth goal of the season, just 11 seconds after the Wild went on the man advantage.
The lead became two just 15 seconds later. Anas gained control of a loose puck along the boards in the Chicago end. He passed it to Mayhew, who was along the goal line in what looked like a give-and-go. But, Mayhew chose to take the bad angle attempt, firing a wrist shot that went over the shoulder of Chicago netminder Garret Sparks for his AHL-leading 22nd goal of the season.
In the second, Iowa added their second power play goal of the night. At 7:30, Brandon Pirri was called for hooking. As they did earlier, the Wild capitalized seconds later. Iowa won the draw and made a series of quick one-touch passes. The puck came to Anas along the boards, who passed it to Kyle Rau near the side of the net. Rau made a great pass across the slot to Johnson who was at the left faceoff circle. He buried the one-timer for his second goal of the game to make it 3-0.
The Wild finished 2-for-2 on the power play on Saturday. In the last three games, they are 9-for-12 with the man advantage and are 12-for-20 over their last five games. That has moved the Wild power play from 20th in the AHL to eighth.
Anas added his third assist of the game. It was the second straight night that the winger had three assists, moving him into a tie for second in assists in the league with 28. He is third in the league in points with 37.
Lost in the special teams extravaganza was the exceptional play of Iowa goaltender Mat Robson. Robson was outstanding through the first two periods, stopping all 20 shots he faced. That included a flurry of shots to start the contest, where he made seven saves in a span of three minutes.
The biggest came a little less than four minutes into the game. Tye McGinn received a feed in the slot, blasting a one-timer that Robson kicked to the side, but Reid Duke was right there. He tried to the lift the wrist shot into the upper corner, but Robson was able to slide over to knock away the attempt and keep Chicago off the board.
Finally, the Wolves were able to get on the board at 2:40 of the third period. The Wild came out a little sluggish to begin the frame while Chicago was fired up. The Wolves used their forecheck to keep the puck in the Iowa end. Duke stole the puck away along the end boards, passing it in front to Patrick Brown. He attempted to redirect the puck on net, but it was knocked down. The puck was loose just to the right of Robson where McGinn swooped in, lifting it into the top corner for his ninth goal of the year.
The goal seemed to wake up the Wild, as Mayhew scored his second goal of the game a little over a minute later. An icing call by the Wolves put the faceoff in the Chicago end. Nico Sturm won the draw behind him. Mayhew skated in from the left wing position, corralled the puck on his stick, and then fired a blistering wrist shot that went over the shoulder of Sparks for his second goal of the game.
For Mayhew, it was his sixth multiple-goal game this season and fourth in his last seven contests. He extended his point streak to eight straight games (nine goals, six assists).
With 2:22 left in the game, Connor Dewar closed out the scoring with an empty-net tally. It was his fourth goal of the year, making it 5-1. That gave the Wild two goals in the third period on just five shots. Iowa was outshot overall by the Wolves, 33-21.
It will be game two of the Wild’s five-game road trip on Wednesday night when they travel to California to take on the San Diego Gulls (12-14-4). The opening faceoff is scheduled for 9:00 CST.
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