Griffins Stun Rampage with Three Late Goals in Overtime Win
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Down by two goals with less than two minutes to play, the Grand Rapids Griffins pulled another late-game rabbit out of their hat to stun the San Antonio Rampage 3-2 in overtime on Saturday before a sold-out Van Andel Arena.
With San Antonio rookie Evan Fitzpatrick poised to author a shutout in just his second AHL start, the Griffins got on the board on Carter Camper's carom off a Rampage defenseman with 1:50 remaining, tied it on Martin Frk's cannon from the point with 24 seconds left, then won it on a Filip Zadina laser that beat Jared Coreau eight seconds into overtime.
Just another night's work and more late-game dramatics for the Central Division leaders, who began the current homestand on Feb. 6 by logging a pair of Filip Hronek power play goals in the final two minutes to steal a 2-1 win over Manitoba. Thanks to tonight's heroics, Grand Rapids became the first AHL team to reach 20 victories on home ice (20-5-1-3) while keeping the last-place Rampage's league-worst road haul at five (5-16-4-0). The Griffins also swept the two-game set against San Antonio, extended their home winning streak versus the Rampage to eight, and became the fifth team in the league to hit the 30-win plateau.
Next up for Grand Rapids (30-16-3-4) are the Rockford IceHogs, who will visit Van Andel Arena on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
San Antonio (24-22-5-0) took advantage of a late power play to score the only goal of the opening period. Patrik Rybar made the save on Jakub Jerabek's blast from the left point, but Nolan Stevens was waiting on the doorstep to backhand the rebound along the ice inside the right post at 15:39 for his second goal in as many nights. The Rampage finished the frame with a 13-6 shot differential over the Griffins.
Fitzpatrick, a second-round pick of the St. Louis Blues in 2016 who has spent nearly this entire season with the ECHL's Tulsa Oilers, benefited from his trusty right post with 7:20 left in the second period, as Dominic Turgeon's shot from between the circles clanged off the iron and out of harm's way. It was the closest Grand Rapids came to scoring during the middle 20 minutes; despite spending 6:51 on the power play over four consecutive opportunities, the Griffins managed only seven shots during the second frame.
Mark Cooper's first career AHL goal appeared to provide insurance for the visitors 7:52 into the third. Niko Mikkola failed on a wraparound try at the right post, but Cooper was waiting on the doorstep to whack the puck past Rybar on his second attempt.
The Griffins refused to go quietly, spoiling Fitzpatrick's shutout bid with less than two minutes remaining. From the top of the circles, Camper put an innocent-looking shot on net that Fitzpatrick denied, but the rebound bounced off Rampage defenseman Jake Walman and into the back of the net to give the home team life.
With Rybar pulled for an extra attacker, and after a Rampage attempt to score into the vacated net from their own end had slid just wide and resulted in an icing call, Frk notched his first goal and fourth point in just his second game back with the Griffins. Mere feet away from where he launched his Calder Cup-clinching goal 20 months ago, he teed up a slap shot from the point that snuck through traffic to tie the score at the 19:36 mark. Fitzpatrick was injured on the play and spent several minutes being attended to by the Rampage training staff before leaving the ice and yielding to Coreau, the former Griffin who made 42 stops in the Rampage's 5-1 loss on Friday.
Coreau never made a save.
Off the faceoff to start overtime, Zadina broke in on a 2-on-1 with Wade Megan, pulled up in the right circle and ripped a shot through Coreau's five-hole eight seconds in for the fastest overtime goal in franchise history. Landon Ferraro had held the regular season mark at 18 seconds (3/13/13 vs. Chicago) while Tyler Bertuzzi owns the playoff record at 13 seconds (5/14/15 at Rockford).
Rybar, the AHL's No. 3-ranked goaltender, finished with 33 saves while Fitzpatrick had 18.
Notes: In two games with Grand Rapids, rookie defenseman Dennis Cholowski shows two assists and a plus-six rating...After selling out (10,834) their fourth straight Saturday home date - their last of the regular season - the Griffins stand at six sellouts on the season...Grand Rapids went 0-for-6 on the power play; San Antonio was 1-for-5.
Three Stars: 1. GR Zadina (overtime goal, assist); 2. GR Frk (game-tying goal, assist); 3. GR Rybar (OTW, 33 saves)
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