BELLEVILLE, Ontario - Behind two third-period goals and a stalwart performance from goaltender Patrik Rybar, the Grand Rapids Griffins notched their first victory on the road this season with a 3-1 win over the Belleville Senators at CAA Arena on Saturday night.
Rybar recorded 21 saves for his first win in only his second start with Grand Rapids (3-5-0-0), as Chris Terry and Matt Puempel both tacked on goals in the final period to push the Griffins past the Senators (4-5-0-0) and split the inaugural two-game series between the clubs.
Grand Rapids will return home to Van Andel Arena next Friday and Saturday to host the Iowa Wild and Milwaukee Admirals, respectively. Both games will start at 7 p.m.
Similar to Friday’s matchup with the Senators, Belleville initiated scoring in the first period. At 13:56, the Senators’ Gabriel Gagne had control of the puck near Rybar, but lost it on the doorstep. It drifted directly to the stick of Adam Tambellini, who buried it in the top right corner.
It wasn’t until 18:01 of the first period that the Griffins responded. Set up in front by Matt Ford, Wade Megan fired off a shot from the slot into the upper right-hand corner of the net to knot up the score, 1-1, with his second goal of the season.
A scoreless second period produced multiple chances for both teams, including a penalty shot attempt by Grand Rapids. Dominic Turgeon was awarded the chance after a breakaway opportunity was spoiled by Tambellini at 13:51, but Belleville’s goaltender Filip Gustavsson was there to block the shot.
At 19:12 of the second, the Senators took their turn with a chance as Paul Carey sent a stretch pass to Drake Batherson, enabling a breakaway. Rybar knocked away the shot, though, maintaining the 1-1 knot.
With 16:03 remaining in the contest, it was Terry, the AHL’s leading scorer from last season, who finally broke the tie. From the left boards, Carter Camper sent a centering pass to Terry, who tucked the puck in off the doorstep to give Grand Rapids its first lead of the series, 2-1.
Matt Puempel tacked on the insurance goal at 17:35 with the assistance of Ford. Belleville defensemen Erik Burgdoerfer and Stuart Percy attempted to match up with the two as they skated towards Gustavsson, but Burgdoerfer had a broken stick and was unable to put enough pressure on to block Ford’s pass to Puempel. From in front, Puempel received the puck and deposited it into the net, allowing the Griffins to end the contest with a two-goal lead.
Notes: Gustavsson tallied 28 saves on the night...The Griffins went 0-for-5 on the power play, while the Senators finished 1-for-4...Tonight’s game marked the second of four meetings this season between the two teams, as Belleville will make the return trip to Van Andel Arena on Jan. 11-12...Rybar’s 2-1 win over the Senators clinched his first AHL win.
Three Stars: 1. GR Megan (goal, assist); 2. BEL Tambellini (power play goal); 3. GR Terry (game-winning goal)