Cleveland's Korpisalo Cools off Griffins
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Joonas Korpisalo registered 35 saves while headlining an NHL cavalry that spurred the Cleveland Monsters to a 2-1 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday at Van Andel Arena.
Cleveland (11-19-3-3), whose last-place lineup was bolstered today by the returns of Korpisalo, defenseman Dean Kukan and forwards Zac Dalpe and Tyler Motte from the Columbus Blue Jackets, received significant contributions from all four players to snap a five-game losing streak and post just its second win in its last 11 games (2-8-0-1).
The Griffins (19-17-1-4), meanwhile, suffered just their second loss in their last 12 outings (9-2-0-1). They'll look to resume their winning ways on Wednesday when they host the Milwaukee Admirals at 7 p.m.
The Monsters dodged a bullet during a Griffins power play with just over four minutes remaining in the scoreless first period. After making a save on Matt Lorito, Korpisalo dove desperately to his right to deny a rebound chance by Matt Puempel. Ben Street immediately had another whack at the puck in the slot but his shot rang off the right post, a fact that was confirmed by video review during a stoppage two minutes later.
Cleveland benefited from another stellar save by its NHL backstop midway through the second. After Street led an odd-man rush into the Monsters' zone, Korpisalo lunged to his left to deny Street's try at finishing a give-and-go with Corey Elkins.
While Korpisalo was busy racking up 26 saves through 40 minutes, due in large part to the Griffins' 4-to-0 advantage in power play chances to that point, Tom McCollum proved just as impenetrable on the other end, totaling 15 stops.
The scoreboard was finally lit 1:01 into the third when Cameron Gaunce took a feed from Dalpe and solved McCollum with a snap shot from the right hashmarks, giving Cleveland a lead over Grand Rapids for the first time in a span of 198:48 minutes played in the season series.
The Monsters doubled their margin with a power play goal at the 4:25 mark, as Motte stood in front of McCollum to tip home Carter Camper's shot from the top of the right circle. Kukan also earned an assist on the play.
Grand Rapids ended Korpisalo's shutout bid with just 20 seconds remaining after McCollum had departed for an extra attacker. Korpisalo mishandled Filip Hronek's chest-high dump-in from center ice, enabling Puempel to swoop in and jam the loose puck through the goalie's legs. The Griffins then called timeout in an attempt to draw up the game-tying play, but the Monsters held on for their first victory in four tries against Grand Rapids this season.
McCollum, who had won his last two starts, finished with 23 saves.
Three Stars: 1. CLE Korpisalo (W, 35 saves); 2. CLE Gaunce (goal); 3. GR McCollum (L, 23 saves).
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