Wolves butcher Moose
Sweep Manitoba off road to AHL's Calder Cup
KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun
|Chicago Wolves celebrate their first goal against the Manitoba Moose at the MTS Centre last night behind Moose goalie Alex Auld. (Winnipeg Sun/C. Procaylo)
So much for the stunning comeback, the Chicago Wolves made sure this was a no-win situation for the Manitoba Moose.
The Wolves got another sound performance from world-class goalie Kari Lehtonen and rode the wave of three second-period goals to leave little doubt as to who was the better team in the American Hockey League Western Conference final.
When the final buzzer sounded, the Wolves came away with a 4-1 victory to sweep the best-of-seven series.
"They hadn't lost at home and for us to come in here and steal two is a real feather in our cap," said Wolves coach John Anderson.
With the win, the Wolves advance to the Calder Cup final against either the Providence Bruins or Philadelphia Phantoms, who hold a 3-1 series edge in the Eastern Conference final.
After missing the playoffs entirely in 2003-04, the Moose showed their mettle in bouncing the St. John's Maple Leafs and Rochester Americans from the playoffs, but the Wolves presented another challenge altogether.
"They showed us they're the class of the league at this time," said Moose head coach Randy Carlyle. "We took giant strides as a hockey club, but we didn't reach our ultimate goal."
Following a scoreless first period, Winnipegger Lonny Bohonos opened the scoring at 3:51 of the second, driving the net from the left-wing corner before stuffing the puck underneath Moose goalie Alex Auld, who made his second consecutive start in favour of veteran Wade Flaherty.
There was a scary moment early in the second period as Moose centre Rick Rypien nailed Wolves defenceman Jay Bouwmeester with a hit in the offensive zone.
Rypien was going full speed and Bouwmeester went head-first into the end boards. Bouwmeester was helped off the ice and did not return.
Referee Wes McCauley gave Rypien a five-minute major for checking from behind and a game misconduct.
The score was 1-0 at the time and the Wolves ensured it would be a pivotal moment in the game as they struck for a power-play goal 110 seconds into the penalty when Vigier slipped a shot through Auld's five-hole.
Three seconds after the power play expired, Brian Maloney made it 3-0, roofing a shot on the doorstep.
The Moose had an opportunity to cut into the lead in the opening 30 seconds of the third period, but Ryan Kesler was unable to convert on an odd-man rush.
Wolves defenceman Joe Corvo picked up the loose puck on a breakaway and buried a backhand to extend the lead.
Moose veteran Josh Green broke up Lehtonen's shutout bid at 17:04 of the third, converting a rebound opportunity but it was little more than window dressing.
"They had their big boys going and their goalie played well, that was a huge part of it," said Green, who finished the playoffs with nine goals and 14 points in 14 games. "We could have stolen the third game and gotten right back into the series, but he came up with some huge saves for them and that was the turning point in the series."
One of the biggest concerns for the Moose during the series their struggling power play. That trend continued last night as the Moose went 0-for-4 to finish the series a dismal 0-for-24 with the man advantage.