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RECAP: Wolves Drop Third Straight with Loss to Stars

The Chicago Wolves dropped their third straight game on Wednesday. The Texas Stars bested the Wolves 2-1 in Jack LaFontaine's AHL debut.
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Jack LaFontaine Chicago Wolves

Photo: Chicago Wolves

Following what was a tough weekend in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the Chicago Wolves returned to Allstate Arena on Wednesday in hopes of turning their fortunes around. Despite a strong showing on paper against the Texas Stars, the Wolves failed to have a killer instinct as the better team. Chicago ultimately fell to the Stars in overtime, 2-1.

The Action

Wednesday's first period began in odd fashion, especially for the Wolves. In fact, the Wolves failed to record a shot on net until the 11:05 mark of the first. To that point, the Stars only added three shots of their own on goaltender Jack Lafontaine.

Although the early going failed to display a ton of action, Chicago was awarded the first power play of the game at 11:33. That power play ignited the Wolves, as they recorded five shots on net.

The Wolves Strike First

Just as the power play ended, the Wolves struck. After a bit of a scramble in front of Texas goaltender Matt Jurusik, Andrew Poturalski potted his 20th goal of the season to give the home team a one-goal advantage. Potrualski has been dangerous from the right circle on the power play, and at even strength, all season long.

The Wolves continued their momentum for the remainder of the opening frame but failed to score again. They took their 1-0 lead into the intermission after outshooting Texas 11-3.

Can't Get Too Comfortable

Although the Wolves continued some momentum as they opened the second period, the visitors answered. At the 2:09 mark of the middle frame, Tye Felhaber scored his second goal of the season to keep Texas in the action.

Prior to the shot, which was only Texas' fourth shot of the game, the Wolves had 13 straight shots between the first and second periods. Unfortunately, the Wolves allowed Texas to jump back into the game.

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Not Much to Report

The third period ended scoreless, meaning Texas and Chicago were heading to overtime tied 1-1. The third was the Wolves' period from a shot perspective, as they outshot the visitors 17-8. Unfortunately for the Wolves, Stars' goalie Matt Jurusik kept the Wolves off the board to force the extra period.

After a strong 60 minutes for Jurusik, both teams entered the extra frame to determine a winner. Despite the score, the Wolves outshot Texas 37-17 on Wednesday night.

A Disappointing Defeat

Although Chicago controlled the game, Texas found a way to steal it. At the 2:58 mark in overtime, Rhett Gardner potted his fourth goal of the campaign to seal the win for Texas. On a chilly Wednesday night in Rosemont, the Wolves dropped a game they very much should have won 2-1.

Analysis

The Wolves were the better team on Wednesday night, plain and simple. Despite the slow start in the first period, the Wolves controlled play, outshooting Texas by 20 shots. However, it was the incredible play of La Grange, Illinois native Matt Jurusik that stole the show at Allstate Arena. Jurusik stopped 36 of the 37 shots he faced as the hometown kid.

Despite the loss, moving the Wolves to 0-2-1-0 in their last three games, Chicago had a strong showing at home. However, a combination of quality goaltending and failing to capitalize on chances led to the Wolves' defeat. If they can ride some of this momentum into the weekend, they might rebound against Grand Rapids and Rockford.

Head coach Ryan Warsofsky shared his frustration when speaking to Wolves' content magician Alli Velucci after the game. Warsofsky said the Wolves "let teams hang around" and they "did it again today" against the Stars. Although the numbers were there, the Wolves didn't drive the proverbial dagger into the Stars' back to finish them off early. Instead, they allowed an inferior team to hang around and ultimately steal the win.

Another factor Warsofsky addressed was the debut of goaltender Jack Lafontaine. The former Golden Gopher signed a controversial entry-level contract with the Carolina Hurricanes in the middle of his fifth-year season with the University of Minnesota. Nonetheless, the former Mike Richter Award winner made his AHL debut in the 2-1 loss. Chicago's bench boss said LaFontaine "looked confident, [and] looked calm." In addition, Warsofsky added that he "has a bright future."

What's On Tap Next?

Following the loss, the Wolves remain at Allstate Arena for two games this weekend. The Wolves welcome the Grand Rapids Griffins to town on Friday night, followed by the Rockford IceHogs on Saturday night. Both puck drops are scheduled for 7:00 PM CST.