Iowa Snaps Slide with 7-3 Victory against Grand Rapids
GRAND RAPIDS. MICH. - Iowa Wild (35-26-8-5; 83 pts.) snapped its eight-game losing streak with a 7-3 victory Wednesday night against the Grand Rapids Griffins (38-25-7-4; 87 pts.). The club's 83 points in 2018-19 set a new franchise record as the team moved into sole possession of fourth place in the Central Division.
Just 38 seconds into the contest, forward Turner Elson gave the Griffins a 1-0 lead. Forward Dominic Turgeon forced a turnover at the Wild's blue line and gave the puck to Elson as he skated into the zone. Elson carried the puck around the net and beat goaltender Andrew Hammond (38 saves) to the far post for his 18th of the season.
Iowa tied the game at 11:04 as forward Luke Kunin scored his 10th of the season. Forward Ryan Donato was in the right corner and feathered the puck to Kunin in the slot, who one-timed the pass past the blocker of goaltender Patrik Rybar (18 saves). Forward Jordan Greenway earned the secondary assist on the play.
At the end of the first period, Iowa and Grand Rapids were tied at 1-1 with the Griffins owning a 12-7 shot advantage.
Kunin recorded his second tally of the game at 3:41 in the middle frame to give the Wild a 2-1 lead. Kunin caught a pass from defenseman Louie Belpedio, skated into the right circle and unleashed a shot on net. His shot beat Rybar over his right pad for his 11th of the year, coming on the power play. Donato earned the secondary assist on the play.
Iowa pushed its lead to 3-1 when defenseman Louie Belpedio logged his sixth of the season at 11:52 in the second period. On the power play again, Belpedio received a pass from Kunin and wristed a shot on net from the blue line, beating Rybar stick side through a screen for the tally. Donato once again earned an assist on the play.
Donato continued his torrid game, adding a goal to his three assists at 19:12 in the second period. After a faceoff in the Wild's zone, defenseman Matt Bartkowski blocked a Griffins shot and Greenway pushed the loose puck into the neutral zone to spring Donato for the breakaway. Donato deked Rybar to the ice before roofing the shot off his backhand for his eighth goal of the season and first with Iowa.
Through 40 minutes of play, Iowa led 4-1 while Grand Rapids had an 18-15 shot lead.
Grand Rapids ended Iowa's goal streak with a tally at 6:47 in the third period. Forward Dylan McIlrath took a shot from the right circle that was saved by Hammond. The rebound bounced off forward Chase Pearson, over Hammond and into the net for his second of the season.
The Wild quickly responded as Kunin completed his hat trick just 40 seconds later. Playing 4-on-4, defenseman Brennan Menell took a shot from the point and Kunin tipped the puck down past Rybar for his third goal and fourth point of the night. Kunin's hat trick was the Wild's sixth of the season and he became the first player in Wild history to record multiple hat tricks in an Iowa sweater.
Griffins forward Wade Megan cut Iowa's lead to 5-3 at 13:26 in the final frame. Megan deflected a shot from defenseman Filip Hronek through Hammond's five-hole for his 19th of the season.
At 16:18 in the third period, forward Cal O'Reilly pushed Iowa's lead back to three goals, moving the game to 6-3. While on the power play, O'Reilly cradled a pass from Menell and ripped a slap shot from above the circles into the top right corner for his 14th of the season. Forward Kyle Rau logged the secondary helper on the play. O'Reilly's goal was his 64th point of the season, tying the Wild's franchise record for points in a single campaign, which he set last season.
Donato capped off his impressive Iowa debut with his second goal and fifth point, scoring with just four seconds remaining in the contest. Inside the right circle, Donato one-timed a feed from forward Matt Read and beat Rybar cleanly. Bartkowski notched his second assist of the game with the secondary helper.
Four seconds later, the final horn sounded and Iowa snapped its eight-game losing streak with a 7-3 victory. Grand Rapids outshot Iowa 41-25. The Wild went 3-for-5 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.
The Iowa win marked the third time the team has scored seven or more goals in a single contest and the sixth time the Wild's power play has potted three or more tallies. Iowa's magic number dropped to five with two games to go and moved the club into sole possession of fourth place in the Central with the victory.
Iowa returns to Wells Fargo Arena to close out the regular season, starting with a contest Friday against the Chicago Wolves. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
The Iowa Wild 2018-19 season is presented by MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center and runs from October through April. For more information, please contact the Wild office by calling 515-564-8700 or by visiting www.iowawild.com.
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