Griffins Edge Wolves in Overtime, 3-2
ROSEMONT, Ill. - For the second time in as many nights, the top two teams in the Central Division required overtime. And once again, the Grand Rapids Griffins would come out on top as Ben Street netted his team-high 23rd goal of the season with 1:11 remaining in the extra session to clinch a 3-2 win over the Chicago Wolves on Saturday at Allstate Arena.
Making his 100th regular season appearance in a Grand Rapids uniform, Jared Coreau turned aside 37 shots for his team-leading 14th victory of the campaign in a game that saw the Griffins hit the 40-win plateau for the fifth consecutive season and the 14th time in the franchise's 21-year history. The result also puts the Griffins (40-17-1-4) one point above Chicago (37-17-7-3) in the Central Division standings with two games in hand.
Another quick start paid off for the Griffins as Tyler Bertuzzi opened the scoring 1:43 into the contest. After Dylan McIlrath's initial wrist shot from the right point was turned away by the blocker of Ville Husso, Bertuzzi raced toward the low slot to collect the rebound and sneak a shot underneath the Chicago netminder that traveled inches over the goalline.
Grand Rapids added to its lead on the man advantage when Street's snap shot from the right point deflected off the stick of Tomas Nosek at the right circle and then bounced off the left leg of Eric Tangradi in front at the 6:30 mark of the middle frame.
Samuel Blais responded with a power play goal to get Chicago on the scoresheet with 9:02 left in the second. Andrew Agozzino's dump-in in front of the Grand Rapids bench ricocheted off the stick of Nosek near the right corner and straight to Blais in front for a quick shot inside the left post.
The Wolves evened the score when Blais took a Jordan Caron feed in the slot and placed a shot into the top right corner with 6:23 remaining in the third to force Grand Rapids beyond regulation for the fourth consecutive game and extend Chicago's point streak to 13 straight (9-0-4-0).
The Griffins started the extra frame with Street, Tangradi and Joe Hicketts while the hosts countered with Wade Megan, Kenny Agostino and Chris Butler. Chicago's best chance came on its opening shift when an Agostino breakaway attempt was steered aside by Coreau's blocker. Kyle Criscuolohad a golden opportunity near the halfway mark when he escaped pressure at the right point and walked into the slot for a shot that grazed the outside of the left post.
With less than 90 seconds remaining, Street won a defensive zone faceoff and eventually gained control of a Nathan Paetsch pass at his own line before breezing past two Chicago defenders for a breakaway attempt of his own. Husso stretched out his goal stick anticipating a deke, but Street responded by lifting the puck between the blocker and right pad at the 3:49 mark to seal the Griffins' eighth win in ten regular season meetings against the Wolves.
Grand Rapids finished 1-for-3 on the man advantage to improve its AHL-best power play efficiency to 27.1 percent while Chicago converted on 1-of-5 opportunities. Husso blocked 28 shots in defeat.
The Griffins conclude a three-in-three weekend on Sunday with a road tilt against the Milwaukee Admirals with puck drop from UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena set for 6 p.m. EDT.
Notes: Coreau became the fifth Griffins goaltender in franchise history to make 100 appearances...Seven of Tangradi's 12 goals this season have come on the power play...Grand Rapids has won 10 of its last 12 visits to Allstate Arena, outscoring Chicago 46-18.
Three Stars: 1. GR Street (overtime goal, assist); 2. CHI Blais (two goals); 3. GR Coreau (W, 37 saves)
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