DES MOINES, IOWA – Iowa Wild (31-27-10-6; 78 points) fell to Rockford IceHogs (40-26-4-4; 88 points) by a score of 5-3 Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Arena.
Rockford opened the scoring at 3:16 of the first period with a goal from forward Henrik Samuelsson, his ninth of the season. Samuelsson redirected defenseman Gustav Forsling’s shot from the point, tipping it past Wild goaltender Niklas Svedberg (21 saves) glove side. Forward Andreas Martinsen also helped give the IceHogs a 1-0 lead.
At 9:06 of the opening frame, Wild forward Gerry Fitzgerald tied the game at 1-1. On the play, defenseman Zach Palmquist carried the puck up the right-wing side into the IceHogs zone and shot the puck from the circle. IceHogs goaltender Collin Delia (20 saves) made the initial save, but Fitzgerald found the rebound and put it past Delia for his fourth goal of the season.
Wild forward Kyle Rau gave Iowa the 2-1 lead at 13:16 of the first period. After forward Justin Kloos drove to the net and took an initial shot, the puck found its way to Rau at the left faceoff circle. Rau’s wrister beat Delia stick side for his 21st of the season. Forward Gerry Mayhew earned the secondary assist on the play.
After 20 minutes, Iowa led 2-1 but Rockford outshot the home team 11-8.
From the right-wing circle, IceHogs forward Anthony Louis tallied the equalizer at 4:22 of the second period. His wrist shot beat Svedberg glove side, making it a 2-2 game. Forward Lance Bouma and defenseman Viktor Svedberg each added assists on Louis’ 13th goal of the season.
IceHogs defenseman Cody Franson scored his seventh goal of the season at 8:32 of the middle frame, giving Rockford a 3-2 lead. Franson’s shot from the right point beat Svedberg five-hole after it was deflected off Wild forward Landon Ferraro’s stick. Forwards Alexandre Fortin and Luke Johnson were credited with the helpers.
After 40 minutes of play, Rockford held a 22-16 shot advantage with its 3-2 lead.
At 3:39 of the third period, Rau scored his second goal of the night, tying the game at 3-3. Mayhew set up Rau on the right post with a backhand feed and Rau beat Delia glove side for his 22nd goal of the season.
Bouma gave the lead back to the IceHogs at 15:14 of the third period. On the play, forward Chris DiDomenico centered the puck and Bouma shot it past Svedberg stick side to give the visitors a 4-3 lead.
With 29 seconds left in the game, Franson sealed the 5-3 victory for Rockford with his second goal of the night. With the win, Rockford clinched the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division.
At night’s end, Rockford held a 26-23 shot advantage over Iowa.
Iowa Wild hosts Milwaukee Admirals on Friday for its final home game of the 2017-18 season. Opening faceoff is slated for 7 p.m.
The Iowa Wild 2017-18 season is presented by Mercy Medical Center and runs from October through April. For more information, please contact the Wild office by calling 515-564-8700 or by visiting www.iowawild.com.