Griffins Win Sixth Straight, 4-2 over Chicago
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - With their firepower dampened by prolonged callups to the Detroit Red Wings and today's deadline trade of Calle Jarnkrok, the Grand Rapids Griffins used goals from some unlikely sources to gut their way to a 4-2 win over the Chicago Wolves in their crucial Wednesday showdown at Van Andel Arena.
The Griffins twice rallied from one-goal deficits to earn their sixth consecutive victory and increase their Midwest Division lead over Chicago to five points. Martin Frk, Landon Ferraro, Nathan Paetsch and Triston Grant lit the lamp for Grand Rapids, snapping personal goal-scoring droughts of seven, nine, 15 and 19 games, respectively.
Grand Rapids (36-17-2-3) will conclude its brief three-game home stand this weekend by hosting the Iowa Wild on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. before heading out on a season-high seven-game road trip.
Chicago (33-18-4-2) capitalized on a defensive mishap to break the ice just 1:59 into the game. Michael Davies picked up a loose puck along the left boards at the Griffins' blue line and, slipping past a pair of defensemen, walked in alone on Petr Mrazek and fired a high shot that hit Mrazek's left arm but fluttered into the net.
The Griffins answered with a power play goal at 16:29 that drew the ire of Wolves netminder Jake Allen. He denied Teemu Pulkkinen's initial blast from the high slot and stopped Andrej Nestrasil's rebound attempt before ripping off his own mask due to an apparent equipment problem. Unfortunately for Allen, the puck was still loose among skates and sticks in the crease, so after Frk finally jammed it home, Allen immediately skated to the referee to make his vehement but ultimately fruitless plea.
The scoring pattern repeated itself in the second period, starting with a goal at the 3:26 mark by Ty Rattie that put Chicago ahead 2-1. Off a turnover in the neutral zone, Nathan Longpre's shot was kicked aside by Mrazek's right pad, but the juicy rebound fell right on the blade of Rattie's stick for an easy goal.
Ferraro beat Allen on a wraparound for the tying marker at 14:45, and a tremendous goal by Grant gave the Griffins their first lead exactly 3:30 later. Initially headed to the bench after exiting the penalty box, Grant instead joined a 2-on-1 rush with Mitch Callahan, who hit him with a centering pass at the edge of the right circle. Although draped by a defender, Grant quickly switched to his forehand and stuffed the puck inside the left post while falling to the ice.
The Griffins held that slim one-goal lead into the final minute of the third period, when the Wolves were pressing for the tying goal with an extra attacker in hopes of extending their four-game winning streak. But Jeff Hoggan outworked a foe for the puck deep along the right boards, and Paetsch gathered it and slung it 170 feet down the ice into the empty net with 24 seconds remaining.
Mrazek made 32 saves to earn the win over Allen, who countered with 36. The Griffins enjoyed a 6-2 advantage in power play chances, converting once while holding Chicago scoreless.
Note: The Griffins, who owned a 16-point lead over Chicago on Dec. 21 and had entered each of the last five meetings with a double-digit advantage over their rival, began this night with just a three-point margin and recently saw it remain at one for a 10-day stretch.
Three Stars: 1. GR Grant (game-winning goal); 2. GR Hoggan (two assists); 3. GR Mrazek (W, 32 saves)
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