CHICAGO -- Toronto Marlies goalie Drew MacIntyre knew a 3-0 lead wouldn't hold against the increasingly desperate Chicago Wolves on Saturday.
But MacIntyre and defenders in front of him withstood a late Wolves push to claim a 4-2 victory and 2-0 advantage in the Western Conference semifinal series.
"They were buzzing, they were more desperate after (our) 3-0 lead and really dominated us at times," said MacIntyre, who was provided with a three-goal first period cushion. "I think we sat back and let them come a We have to be better when we're having that lead and still play like it's a 0-0 game."
Still, the club heads home with a chance to clinch the American Hockey League series on home ice with three scheduled games at Ricoh Coliseum.
"You come into these series and hope to find a way to get into overtime one night and steal a game and to come out with two is great," Marlies coach Steve Spott said. "I give Chicago a lot of credit. They threw everything they had at us and we had to weather the storm."
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 Alllen 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 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.
"We became a harder hockey club, a more seasoned hockey club," Spott said. "It's really the first time we had to deal with big-time adversity, so it's nice that we dealt with it."
MacIntyre made 22 saves for the win while Allen turned away 18 shots in defeat.
"They're goalie played good and he blocked a lot of our shots but you can't make four or five horrendous errors early in the game to get down like that," said Wolves coach John Anderson.
"Other than that we came along, we regrouped and had a pretty decent game after that. But 3-0 against a team like that is pretty tough."
The series shifts to Toronto for games on Wednesday and Friday and, if necessary, next Saturday.