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Forsberg Saves Hogs' Bacon

March 15, 2019 - American Hockey League (AHL) - Grand Rapids Griffins News Release

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Grand Rapids fired a season-high 48 shots at Rockford goaltender Anton Forsberg on Friday but succeeded in putting only two past him, as the IceHogs snapped the Griffins' six-game home point streak with a 3-2 victory at Van Andel Arena.

Despite registering just 20 shots of their own, the IceHogs never trailed and earned an important two points in their quest for a playoff spot. Rockford (28-24-4-6, 66 pts.) stands in a three-way logjam for fifth place in the Central Division with Manitoba and Milwaukee, with Texas sitting three points ahead in the fourth and final playoff position.

The Griffins (33-18-6-4, 76 pts.), who fell behind Iowa into third place but still trail first-place Chicago by only three points, will begin a season-high six-game road trip on Saturday with a 7 p.m. EDT start at Milwaukee.

Grand Rapids dominated the opening period, outshooting Rockford to the tune of 20-5, but went to the locker room with the scoreboard showing a 1-1 deadlock after having rallied from an early deficit. Following a battle for the puck along the end boards, Tyler Sikura slipped a pass out front to Andreas Martinsen, who popped a shot over Patrik Rybar from below the right circle at the 6:38 mark for his first AHL goal of the season.

Matthew Ford answered for the Griffins with 2:15 remaining. Taking a pass from Martin Frk at the Rockford blue line with a step on two defenders, Ford skated in alone and lifted a backhand past Forsberg.

The home team's shot advantage ballooned to 30-6 before the IceHogs registered their second shot of the middle frame at the 14:26 mark, when Victor Ejdsell forced Rybar to make a nice glove save on a quick wrister from above the left circle. Rockford went on to launch the final six shots of the frame, and the late surge paid off in the form of a go-ahead power play goal with 42 seconds left. Luke Johnson picked off Dylan McIlrath's clearing attempt above the left circle, took a few strides and snapped a shot inside the near post to give the visitors an improbable 2-1 lead.

With the help of their own power play, the Griffins quickly built that shot cushion to 37-14 early in the third, but Forsberg stayed impenetrable and the IceHogs soon took advantage of a Grand Rapids lapse to increase their margin to 3-1. On a rush into the Griffins' zone, Graham Knott snuck behind his defender and drove the slot to pot Ejdsell's centering feed at 4:07.

Grand Rapids pulled within one at 14:28, as Turner Elson redirected Jake Chelios' shot from the left point into the top of the net. Just after pulling Rybar for an extra attacker with 90 seconds remaining, the Griffins nearly tied it when Dennis Cholowski's blast from the right point snuck through Forsberg, but Joni Tuulola played the hero and knocked the puck out of harm's way before it could trickle over the line. The Hogs then withstood a final flurry around their net to snap the Griffins' eight-game series point streak (6-0-2-0) at Van Andel Arena and earn just their second regulation win in their last 14 visits.

A 0-for-4 performance on the power play extended the Griffins' drought to 0-for-15 over the last three and a half games, while Rockford finished 1-for-4 while registering the first power play goal by an opponent in the last four outings.

Rybar, whose 2.26 goals against average entering the night tied Syracuse's Connor Ingram for the best in the AHL, made 17 saves.

Neither Filip Zadina, assigned by Detroit late last night, nor Brian Lashoff, recalled by the Red Wings after tonight's game, suited up for the Griffins.

Three Stars: 1. RFD Forsberg (W, 46 saves); 2. GR Frk (two assists); 3. RFD Knott (game-winning goal)

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