Jake Allen makes key early saves in Wolves’ victory
BY BRIAN SANDALOW For Sun-Times Media December 29, 2013 10:54PM
Updated: December 29, 2013 11:02PM
Jake Allen’s best work came early, which was when the Wolves needed it the most.
Allen made 33 saves and Pat Cannone’s third-period power-play goal turned out to be the game-winner for the Wolves (17-12-1-2) in a 4-3 victory Sunday against the Charlotte Checkers (13-17-0-1) at Allstate Arena.
Christian Hanson, Michael Davies and Sebastian Wannstrom also scored for the Wolves, who recovered from a 5-4 overtime loss Saturday against the Lake Erie Monsters in Cleveland to win for the fifth time in their last six games.
Playing their third game in three days, the Wolves allowed the Checkers to take the first six shots. Allen stopped them all, making it possible for the Wolves to take a 1-0 lead 2:08 into the game when Hanson snuck away from the Checkers’ defense, one-timing a feed from Joel Edmundson past a sprawling Anton Khudobin (36 saves).
“It was our third game in three nights, we were a little sluggish the first couple minutes and they had some jump in their step,” Allen said. “Everybody had to play yesterday, and they came out flying and caught us a little off guard.
“Luckily we got away with a 0-0 game there, and we picked it up right after that.”
Coach John Anderson agreed.
“We weathered the storm a bit, and Jake came up with some big saves early,” Anderson said. “We pretty much took over the game right from there. Once we scored that first goal, I thought we were pretty dominant.”
Facing an NHL-level goalie in Khudobin — who was assigned Saturday by the Carolina Hurricanes on a conditioning stint after suffering an ankle injury in October — the Wolves had 40 shots on goal, helping them survive two goals by Aaron Palushaj.
Their special teams also came through. Cannone’s goal with 4:12 left — which was needed insurance after the Checkers’ Justin Shugg scored with 1:35 remaining — came on the power play, which had entered Sunday last in the American Hockey League at 10.7 percent.
The penalty kill also delivered, running off 36 seconds of a two-man advantage early in the third and preserving a 3-2 lead.
“Guys have stepped up. Our penalty’s kill been solid all year,” Allen said. “I don’t think we would be where we are over the last 10 games without our penalty kill. It showed again the last couple minutes, so it was huge for us.”