Griffins Drop First of Two-Game Set to Charlotte
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The Charlotte Checkers scored the final three goals of the contest on Friday to post a 4-2 come-from-behind victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins at Van Andel Arena and snap their 10-game losing streak.
The Checkers, who owned an impressive 25-12-1-2 record prior to their recent 0-8-2-0 drought, won for the first time since Jan. 23 and logged their first road triumph since Jan. 9.
Grand Rapids, which had won two straight at home over first-place teams, won't have to wait long for redemption, as the Griffins will host a 7 p.m. rematch with Charlotte on Saturday.
Tyler Bertuzzi put the Griffins on the board 7:40 into the opening period. Off a turnover in the Charlotte zone, Bertuzzi quickly worked his way around a defender and in on goalie Drew MacIntyre, slipping the puck between the pads of the former Griffin.
The Checkers (26-20-3-2) tied matters just 1:06 later thanks to a fortunate bounce, as Ethan Werek threw the puck toward the net from along the left goal line and saw it redirect off Grand Rapids defenseman Nick Jensen at the far post and into Jared Coreau's net. But the Griffins (28-20-1-1) took a 2-1 lead to the locker room thanks to Andy Miele, who scored on a rebound from the left side with 1:11 remaining before intermission.
Lady Luck gave to and took from the Checkers midway through the second frame, first making and then keeping it a 2-2 game. After Joakim Andersson was stifled on a partial breakaway while shorthanded, the ensuing Charlotte rush up the ice concluded with Brock McGinn's slap shot from the right circle deflecting high off Coreau's glove before settling into the back of the net at 9:41. The Checkers then thought they had taken the lead just 15 seconds later on a try by Brendan Woods, but the potential goal was nullified upon video review.
However, Charlotte scored a third goal that counted with 6:17 left in the period to grab the lead, with T.J. Hensick converting a wraparound on his backhand. It marked the first time the Checkers led a game in a span of 267:39, and once they carried that margin into the final 20 minutes, it marked their first third-period lead in their last nine games.
Charlotte, which outplayed and outshot Grand Rapids to the tune of 16-6 during the second period, had held a third-period lead for a total of just 36 seconds during its 10-game slide, but it nurtured its slim advantage throughout the final stanza. MacIntyre stoned a partial break by Anthony Mantha with his left pad with just 2:19 showing on the clock, before Patrick Brown salted away the game with an empty-netter at 19:41.
Coreau stopped 36 of 39 shots in the losing effort while MacIntyre made 29 stops for the win.
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