After the way the Chicago Wolves and Rockford IceHogs battled throughout the regular season, creating one of the better rivalries in the American Hockey League, it's no surprise their best-of-seven Calder Cup playoff series returns to Allstate Arena tonight tied 2-2.
So far the home team has won each game with the Wolves having the home ice edge in what now has become a best two-of-three series.
"I'm glad we have it," Wolves coach John Anderson said.
In fact, in 13 of the 14 games the two teams have played this season, the home team has won.
The winner tonight can wrap up the West Devision final series with another victory in Game 6 on Sunday afternoon in Rockford. A deciding Game 7 would be at Rosemont on Tuesday night.
It was the IceHogs grinding out a 3-2 win at home on Wednesday behind 2 goals from Troy Brouwer and clutch goaltending down the stretch from Corey Crawford after the Wolves closed a 3-0 deficit to 3-2.
Crawford made two big stops in the game's waning moments, including one on Jason Krog in tight after the Wolves had pulled their goalie, Ondrej Pavelec, for a sixth attacker.
The IceHogs were more physical Wednesday and won more battles than in their two losses in Games 1 and 2 when they were outscored 11-4.
"We've brought ourselves back into this and we have some momentum," Rockford coach Mike Haviland told reporters following Game 4. "We just have to carry it into (Game 5). They're not going to stop coming at you."
The IceHogs are going to need all the momentum they can get to win at Allstate Arena, where they are 0-7 this season.
"They're comfortable in their building and we're comfortable in ours," Wolves winger Darren Haydar said.
In both previous playoff games in Rosemont, the IceHogs fell behind by 3 goals. It was 3-0 after the first period in Game 2 last Saturday.
It was Rockford jumping out to a 3-0 lead on Wednesday.
"It sure helps to have an early lead in games this series," Anderson said.
Anderson hasn't been happy with the way the Wolves have played since the first period in the second game.
"We have to play better if we want to win this series," Anderson said. "I know we can play better."
Rockford played the last two games without center Dave Bolland, who is fighting the same ankle injury that slowed him late in the season while he was with the Blackhawks.
The IceHogs have been without defenseman Jordan Hendry throughout the playoffs with a head injury.