Third periods this season have provided the Wolves with a textbook full of lessons.
A young Wolves squad has lost several games in large part due to poor play in key moments during third periods.
Sunday against the Houston Aeros at Allstate Arena, a botched power play at the beginning of the final period actually energized the Wolves, propelling them to a 4-1 win.
Instead of allowing the disappointing power play effort to kill their energy level, it ignited a Wolves offensive onslaught that ended with a Yann Sauve goal at 3:47, putting the Wolves ahead 3-1. The Wolves allowed Houston only four shots in the final frame.
“We didn’t give them a lot in the third,” head coach Craig MacTavish said. “They had a really good push early in the game I thought. For the first period I thought it was going to be a real tough game.
“I was happy with the way that we checked and looked like we learned from some of our shortcomings last night.”
Houston took a 1-0 lead off a Jeff Taffe goal at 5:16, but Wolves right wing Darren Haydar responded with a goal at 15:02.
Haydar also assisted on Mark Mancari’s power play goal at 5:27 in the second period that gave the Wolves a 2-1 lead.
Understanding that the power play has hampered the Wolves this season, the team has made a recent effort to throw pucks at the net.
“It seems to be our Achilles heel this year is our power play,” Haydar said. “So for us I think we got one there in the second period. We knew that we needed to get one and we were fortunate to get one tonight. It’s a matter of making the right decisions again and I think we’re starting to make some better plays.”
Heading into Sunday’s game the Wolves led the Midwest Division by two points despite a power play that ranks last in the AHL. It speaks to the potential the Wolves have to run away with the division over the final month of the regular season.
The Wolves start a seven-game road trip, the longest of the season, Thursday night at Abbottsford before playing their final two games of the season at home.
According to MacTavish the Wolves walked away with several injuries which will be evaluated tomorrow—most notably Mike Duco who didn’t return after slamming into the boards midway through the first period.