After his first two starts of the season, Wolves goalie Oscar Dansk needed a game like the 4-0 win over the Moose on Saturday at Allstate Arena.
“I think it was important, without a doubt,” Wolves coach Rocky Thompson said.
Dansk’s season began with the opener Oct. 5, when he allowed eight goals on just 25 shots against the Griffins. After being called up by the Golden Knights to fill in for injured backup Malcolm Subban, Dansk’s next appearance was Monday in Philadelphia, where he was beaten six times in 37 tries.
Dansk then was sent back to the Wolves, swapping places with Garret Sparks. Instead of more struggles, Dansk stopped 25 shots for the shutout of the Moose. He looked more like the goalie who helped the Wolves get within three wins of the Calder Cup.
“It definitely felt good,” Dansk said. “The funny thing is, I felt good for a long time. In practices, I felt like my game was pretty good, but it was definitely nice to get that one.”
Thompson recognized how much Dansk’s teammates wanted to get him the shutout. After going up 3-0 on Jake Leschyshyn’s empty-net goal with 3:58 left, Thompson said the players on the bench wanted to “do this for him.”
“That’s why they continued to go out and block shots and play on the right side of the puck,” Thompson said. “When Oscar needed to, he made good saves and he looked solid in there, and I thought he looked confident and that’s important.”
The Wolves also are showing improvement as a team.
“It’s good. Just proves that we’re morphing into a nice team here,” Dansk said. “A good team game that we want to play that the management preaches. It means that we’re listening, which is a good thing.”
The Wolves won their third in a row and had their second-highest goal total of the season. With defenseman Zach Whitecloud (upper body) in the lineup for the first time this season, the Wolves generated more offense from the blue line and had more success exiting their own zone.
“It was his first game in a while, and I really liked his game,” Thompson said. “I really thought he helped our team.”
Tye McGinn picked up his 100th career AHL goal, Gage Quinney and Patrick Brown also scored and Lucas Elvenes had two more assists. The game was a far cry from the 3-2 win over the Stars on Wednesday, when Sparks was forced to make 39 saves.
“Just to keep building on it, as a team to get a win like that, it’s always nice,” Dansk said. “It was a really solid team game for 60 minutes. Those are always really nice to get.”
Thompson echoed that.
“I thought we were on the right side of the puck for the majority of the night,” he said. “That was a big step in the right direction considering how we played, particularly in the second period of our last game.”
NOTE: Jake Leschyshyn’s goal was his first as a professional. His father, Curtis, played 1,033 regular-season NHL games and was a member of the 1996 Stanley Cup champion Avalanche.