WINNIPEG, Manitoba – The Grand Rapids Griffins were in firm control of the game on Monday night until the last three minutes. Manitoba, the team with the best record in the AHL, scored two goals in 36 seconds to force overtime at Bell MTS Place. With 1:39 left in the extra period, Filip Hronek clinched the 3-2 victory for the defending Calder Cup champions with a slap shot.
With the win, the Griffins are back above .500 (17-16-1-4) and have been victorious in seven of its last 10 games. They will face off against the same Manitoba (25-6-3-2) team on Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST.
Matthew Ford put Grand Rapids on the board just 1:59 into the game. Evgeny Svechnikovcollected the puck behind the net and made a pass to Ford near the crease. His initial shot was stopped by Moose goaltender, Michael Hutchinson, but the rebound sailed into the slot for Axel Holmstrom to take a whack at it. The Swede’s shot hit the post and caromed to a waiting Ford who tapped it into the net for the 1-0 lead.
With exactly five minutes to go in the opening frame, the Griffins added on to their lead with a goal from Eric Tangradi. A slow, cross-ice pass between two Manitoba defensemen was intercepted by the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native who skated past three defenders for the breakaway. His backhand shot flew over Hutchinson’s left blocker to make it 2-0.
No goals were tallied in the second period, but each team had nine shots on net. Matt Lorito had the team’s best chance with six minutes left in the stanza after a turnover led him to skate untouched into the slot and let off a hard wrist shot that nearly took Hutchinson by surprise. On the opposite end, Darren Kramer found an open Jimmy Lodge crashing the net who let off a shot that nearly went into the net. The puck sat a foot away from the goal line before Brian Lashoff cleared it out of the zone.
Cameron Schilling prevented Manitoba’s clean sheet with a shot from the left point. Tucker Poolman sent the puck from the right boards to the left boards through three defenders. The long pass set up the snap shot that glided into the net to cut the deficit to one with 2:37 left in regulation.
Just 36 seconds later the game was tied by Nic Petan with his eighth goal of the season. Petan initially brought the puck into the zone before handing it off to Patrice Cormier. The center took a shot near the right boards that found the tip of Petan’s stick to tie the game with 2:01 remaining.
In the extra session the Griffins didn’t allow a single scoring opportunity for the Moose. Then with 1:39 left, Svechnikov skated into the Manitoba zone and dropped the puck off for Hronek who let off a slap shot that won the game for Grand Rapids.
Tom McCollum turned aside 33 of Manitoba’s 35 shots while Michael Hutchinson stopped 30 of Grand Rapids’ 33 chances.
Notes: Both teams combined to go 0-for-6 on the power play…Evgeny Svechnikov was the only player to record a multi-point game.
Three Stars: 1. MB Petan (goal); 2. GR McCollum (W, 33 saves); 3. MB Appleton (assist)