The visiting Toronto Marlies scored three early goals then held off a late Chicago Wolves comeback to seize a 2-0 Western Conference semifinals series lead with a 4-2 victory on Saturday at Allstate Arena.
The Marlies scored three first-period goals and were all they needed as the club heads home with a chance to clinch the American Hockey League series on home ice with three scheduled games at Ricoh Coliseum.
It took just 64 seconds for Toronto's first strike. Centre Peter Holland picked up a loose puck following a Wolves' turnover behind their net and dumped a shot past Chicago goalie Jake Allen for a 1-0 lead.
Toronto made it 2-0 at 7:38 mark when Brandon Kozun lined up for a shot on goal but found centre Trevor Smith open to Allen's right. Kozun instead send a feed and Smith had an easy tap-in.
Three minutes later, right-winger Kenny Ryan swept towards Allen, who moved to block an opening. Ryan then spun and slipped a feed to winger Josh Leivo, who sent a shot over Allen's shoulder for a 3-0 lead at 14:46.
The Wolves finally scored as right winger Shane Harper broke goaltender Drew MacIntyre's shutout at 1:46 of the third.
Chicago narrowed the margin to 3-2 on left winger Dmitrij Jaskin's power-play goal at 17:21, but Marlies left winger Jerry D'Amigo secured the win with an empty netter with 57 seconds to play.
MacIntyre made 22 saves for the win while Allen turned away 18 shots in defeat.
The series shifts to Toronto for games on Wednesday and Friday and, if necessary, next Saturday.