It didn't happen through 65 minutes, but the Wolves finally found a way to put some pucks behind Carter Hutton.
The Wolves scored three times in the shootout to escape with a 1-0 victory over Rockford on Saturday night before a crowd of 14,505 at Allstate Arena. Jordan Schroeder, Bill Sweatt and Darren Haydar had the shootout goals as Scott Arniel won in his Wolves coaching debut.
Eddie Lack finished with 25 saves and stopped another three of four in the shootout. Hutton was even better, stopping 31 shots through the overtime.
"Both goaltenders were the stars of the game," said Arniel, who replaced Craig MacTavish in the offseason. "It was a little bit sloppy at both ends of the rink. We probably created some of our messes with turnovers. But ... a win's a win."
With a host of new players — many playing with the Wolves because of the NHL lockout — the opener was viewed with guarded optimism. Much of that has to do with having to face the IceHogs again Sunday.
"We've got some things to work on, but for the most part it was pretty good," Schroeder said. "Everyone is kind of new together this year, and it's our first game. We got the win and that's all that matters."
Lack's performance was the main reason for that, especially since the Wolves failed to capitalize on six power plays. He kept it scoreless with a pad save on a partial breakaway by Brandon Pirri late in the third and made quality stops throughout.
"I didn't get my first shootout win until January last year, so this a little different to get it in the first game," said Lack, who improved to 3-3 in shootouts with the Wolves after losing his first three. "It was a pretty good start for me and the team."
Hutton also made some huge saves to thwart the Wolves. None was bigger than when he robbed Kevin Connauton on a one-timer with a sliding save midway through the third period.
But losing in a shootout clearly frustrated Hutton.
"You play 65 minutes of structured hockey and it kind of goes to a skills competition," Hutton said. "They had my number. It's one of those ones you obviously try to do everything you can to win. It can go one of two ways in a shootout. It's frustrating. We wanted the two points, but we're happy to get a point and build on that."
Wolves tip IceHogs 1-0 in shootout
Lack notches victory in goal game filled with NHL-ready players because of NHL lockout
(Tribune illustration / April 13, 2013)