MILWAUKEE, Wis. --- When Milwaukee defeated the Chicago Wolves three times in the first three weeks of this season, Admirals goaltender Jeremy Smith surrendered just 5 goals.
The Wolves turned the tables on Smith during Saturday night’s Amtrak Rivalry contest as defenseman Kevin Connauton’s pair of early goals triggered a 6-3 triumph at Bradley Center.
Nathan Longpre, Mark Mancari, Mike Duco and Mark Matheson also contributed goals for the Wolves (6-5-0-2), who ran their winning streak to a season-high 3 games while scoring a season-high 6 goals.
Darren Haydar handed out 2 assists to give the Wolves veteran all-star forward 6 points in the last two games. Milwaukee’s Michael Latta scored a pair of second-period goals just 27 seconds apart to give the Admirals (7-3-0-1) a 3-2 lead that didn’t last long.
Longpre knotted the game at the 10:49 mark of the second period when he intercepted a pass deep in the zone and fed a quick pass to Haydar, who dished it right back as Longpre took advantage of an open net to tap in his third goal in the last six games.
Then Mancari, long known as one of the American Hockey League’s best scorers, made a terrific two-way play to deliver what turned out to be the game-winner. Mancari stripped the puck from a Milwaukee defenseman at the blue line, dashed down the ice and stuffed the puck past Smith to give the Wolves a 4-3 lead at the 17:25 mark of the second period.
Duco and Matheson added empty-net goals in the final two minutes to clinch the game, though Duco’s wasn’t ruled an empty-netter as Smith reversed his dash to the bench and dove in vain to stop the shot. Then, with Smith firmly on the bench in the final minute, Matheson lofted the puck the length of the ice for his first goal of the year.
Milwaukee opened the scoring at 12:27 of the first period. Defenseman Scott Ford pounced on a loose puck at the near-boards and wristed a shot at the net, where forward Gabriel Bourque camped in front of Wolves goaltender Matt Climie and distracted him from making the glove save.
Connauton evened the score seven seconds after the Wolves killed off a Milwaukee power play. Connauton sneaked out of the penalty box and, after corralling a pass from Stefan Schneider, beat Smith on the breakaway with a nifty backhand at the 15:39 mark.
Connauton’s power-play goal at the 3:32 mark of the second period gave the Wolves their first lead of the night. Haydar triggered the play as he controlled the puck and threaded the needle from one circle to the other. Connauton timed the pass perfectly with a slapshot that dented the top corner of the net.
Climie (4-2-0), who won for the third consecutive game, stacked up 34 saves. Smith (6-2-1), who entered the night second among AHL goalies with a 1.60 goals-against average, stopped 20 shots.
The Wolves wrap up their five-game road trip on Friday with a return trip to Milwaukee before hosting San Antonio on Saturday at Allstate Arena.
Chicago 1 3 2 -- 6
Milwaukee 1 2 0 -- 3
First Period---1, Milwaukee, Ford 1 (Bourque, Lajunen), 12:27; 2, Chicago, Connauton 3 (Schneider), 15:39. Penalties---Rodin, Chicago (tripping), 5:36; Beck, Milwaukee (goaltender interference), 7:13; Bartley, Milwaukee (hooking), 9:04; Connauton, Chicago (hooking), 13:32; Valentine, Milwaukee (holding), 15:57; Archibald, Chicago (hooking), 16:37.
Second Period---3, Connauton 4 (Haydar, Baumgartner), 3:32, pp; 4, Latta 3 (Josi), 6:46; 5, Latta 4 (Stortini, Ryan), 7:13; 6, Longpre (Haydar), 10:49; 7, Mancari 3 (unassisted), 17:25. Penalties---Stornini, Milwaukee (holding the stick), 2:12; Sauve, Chicago (tripping), 4:41; Flynn, Milwaukee (hooking), 11:42; Mueller, Milwaukee (cross-checking), 17:55.
Third Period---8, Duco 2 (Mancari), 18:33; 9, Matheson 1 (unassisted), 19:08, en. Penalties---Duco, Chicago (roughing, double-minor), 8:39; Lajunen, Milwaukee (roughing), 8:39.
Shots on goal---Chicago: 7-12-7—26. Milwaukee: 13-14-10—37. Power plays---Chicago 1-6. Milwaukee 0-5. Goalies—Chicago, Climie (34-37). Milwaukee, Smith (20-25). A---5,701. Referees---Mark Lemelin and Keith Kaval. Linesmen---Mathieu Chenier and Roger Behling.