Griffins Push Past Monsters on Elson's Late Goal
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Turner Elson smacked a backhand under the glove of Veini Vehvilainen with 1:23 remaining on Friday and Joe Veleno added an empty-netter to push the Grand Rapids Griffins past the Cleveland Monsters by a 4-2 count at Van Andel Arena.
Pat Nagle posted his fourth win in his last five decisions by turning aside 19 shots, as Grand Rapids (23-22-3-4) avenged Tuesday's 6-2 loss on the southern shores of Lake Erie and moved back into a tie for third place in the Central Division with the Chicago Wolves.
The Griffins, who improved to 9-3-1-2 in their last 15 games, will now embark on a three-game trip to the Land of Lincoln, beginning with an 8 p.m. EST tilt on Saturday against their deadlocked rivals from the Windy City.
After a scoreless opening period, Calvin Thurkauf put the Monsters on top 2:54 into the second. Taking a pass at center ice, he sped down the right side and muscled his way around Michael Rasmussen in the circle before scooping a shot past Nagle and inside the far post.
Later in the frame, the Griffins answered with a pair of goals 32 seconds apart to seize a 2-1 lead. Jarid Lukosevicius potted a shot into the top left corner from the slot at 14:31 after pouncing on a Chase Pearson centering pass that deflected off Cleveland defenseman Steve Johnson. Evgeny Svechnikov then stretched his career-high goal streak to four games by one-timing Taro Hirose's feed past the glove of Vehvilainen from the left hashmarks, extending Hirose's point streak to seven games.
Cleveland (23-24-2-2) pulled even 4:35 into the third period. After Markus Hannikainen made a nice play to knock down an outlet attempt along the right boards, Derek Barach quickly sent a pass to an uncovered Kole Sherwood for a point-blank backdoor goal that Nagle had little chance on.
With time ticking down, the Griffins won a faceoff in the Monsters' zone, and Moritz Seider sent a feed toward the left corner that Elson batted to the ice and punched past the netminder from the hashmarks. Veleno then put a wraparound into a vacated net to seal matters with 10 seconds left.
Vehvilainen stopped 29 of 32 shots in the loss. The Griffins (0-for-4) and Monsters (0-for-3) combined to go scoreless in seven power play attempts.
Three Stars: 1. GR Elson (game-winning goal); 2. GR Svechnikov (goal); 3. CLE Thurkauf (goal)
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