Griffins Halt Rampage for Sixth Straight Win
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The Grand Rapids Griffins extended their winning streak to six games and their points run to eight (7-0-0-1) with a methodical 4-2 victory over the San Antonio Rampage on Wednesday at Van Andel Arena.
Patrik Rybar made 25 stops between the Griffins' pipes while Filip Hronek and Turner Elson maintained their hot hands by notching two points apiece. Chris Terry moved into a tie for the AHL's goal-scoring lead with his 15th of the season, and Colin Campbell tallied his third goal in two games to salt it away in the final minute during a power play.
At 14-7-0-2, Grand Rapids now stands a single point behind second-place Milwaukee and two in back of first-place Iowa in the Central Division race. The Griffins, 12-2-0-2 in their last 16 outings, improved to 9-2-0-2 at home on the season and 5-0-0-1 in their last six within friendly confines.
After sweeping their four-game homestand, the Griffins now embark on a three-game road swing that will commence on Friday in Rockford. Game time against the IceHogs is 8 p.m. EST.
A scoreless opening period saw the Griffins hold the Rampage (9-15-1-0) to just one shot in the first six minutes and two over the first 14 en route to finishing the frame with a 12-7 advantage over their guests.
Grand Rapids broke the ice 4:36 into period two. Hronek intercepted a San Antonio clearing attempt in the high slot and wound up for a cannon that pinballed off netminder Ville Husso and defenseman Niko Mikkola before fluttering into a yawning net. Along with an assist later in the contest, Hronek improved his team-high point and assist streaks to seven games (4-7 - 11), the latter of which ties for the longest by an AHL defenseman this season.
The Rampage answered at the 11:43 mark as Nikita Soshnikov collected the puck along the end boards and backhanded a pass into the slot to Nolan Stevens, who put a forehand shot past Rybar to knot the score.
Terry scored with 1:54 remaining in the period to stake the Griffins to a 2-1 lead, tie Chicago's Brooks Macek for the AHL's goal-scoring lead and push his point streak to six games (4-4 - 8) - coinciding with his team's winning streak. Off a faceoff in the San Antonio zone, Elson pushed the puck into the slot to Terry, whose backhanded whack eluded Husso.
The Griffins padded their cushion 1:50 into the third when Hronek's slap pass from the right point found Axel Holmstrom between the circles for a redirection inside the far post.
Tyler Wotherspoon breathed life into San Antonio with 4:17 remaining, launching a wrist shot from the left point that sailed through traffic and into the top of Rybar's net to cut the visitors' deficit to one, but Campbell's power play goal from the bottom of the right circle at 19:31 snuffed out the Rampage's hopes of forcing overtime. Elson, who earned his second helper of the night on the goal, now owns a four-game scoring run (3-4 - 7).
Husso finished with 17 saves for the Rampage, who have dropped 10 of their last 11 games against the Griffins, including their last six visits to Grand Rapids.
Notes: Rybar remains fifth among AHL goalies, with a 2.27 goals against average...After denying San Antonio's only power play chance of the night, the Griffins' penalty killers are a perfect 25-for-25 over the last eight games...Three of the Rampage's top five scorers are on recall to the St. Louis Blues while another two of their top 10 missed the game due to injuries.
Three Stars: 1. GR Hronek (goal, assist); 2. GR Rybar (W, 25 saves); 3. SA Wotherspoon (goal, assist)
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