MILWAUKEE – The Grand Rapids Griffins built a 2-0 lead and then held on late to defeat the Milwaukee Admirals by a 2-1 final on Tuesday night at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
After Milwaukee cut its deficit to one earlier in the third period, the Griffins successfully fended off an Admirals power play with 2:27 remaining in regulation. Milwaukee’s man-advantage turned into a 6-on-4 edge for over a half minute after netminder Anders Lindback was pulled, but the Griffins persevered to earn an important two points in the Central Division’s snug playoff race.
In terms of points, the Griffins (34-24-1-6) place third in the division with 75, trailing second-place Chicago (79) by four and leading both Iowa (74) and Rockford (74) by one. Milwaukee (32-28-4-1, 69 points) remains in sixth place.
Matt Lorito and Corey Elkins provided the offense tonight, and Tom McCollum collected 21 saves as Grand Rapids improved to 4-0 at Panther Arena this season.
The Griffins now turn their sights to a three-road-games-in-three-nights stretch that begins Friday at Iowa. Puck drop from Wells Fargo Arena is set for 8 p.m. EDT.
Grand Rapids outshot Milwaukee 12-7 in the opening 20 minutes but the game remained scoreless as both goaltenders were up to the task. With 14:45 remaining in the period, McCollum slid to his left and made a terrific glove save on his former Griffin teammate Mark Zengerle, who was skating in on a 2-on-1 with Emil Pettersson. Colin Campbell drew iron at the 15:30 mark and Lindback paddled away Ben Street’s attempt with 25 ticks left in the frame.
Lorito wiped away the scoreboard’s double bagel with 8:35 to play in the middle frame and extended his goal streak to three games. After receiving a cross-ice pass from Robbie Russo at the top of the far circle, Lorito took several unimpeded strides to the bottom of the wheel and sent a shot past Lindback’s glove side. Lindback concluded the night with 28 saves.
Elkins made it a two-goal game at the 3:22 mark of the third period. After Elkins won a neutral-zone faceoff, he skated up ice and was the recipient of a well-placed stretch pass from Dylan McIlrath. Skating across the Milwaukee blueline, Elkins fought off a pair of Admiral defenders before snapping a low-rising shot into Lindback’s cage. Three of Elkins’ nine goals on the campaign have come against the Admirals.
Harry Zolnierczyk notched a shorthanded tally to cut the Griffins’ lead in half with 7:58 remaining in regulation. With Jack Dougherty in the penalty box for cross-checking, Zolnierczyk snuck past the defense and wired the puck by McCollum.
Zolnierczyk was tripped by Filip Hronek near the Grand Rapids goal at the 17:33 mark of the third period, setting up a last-ditch effort to tie the game. The Griffins withstood the rally, which included Milwaukee hitting the post with 10 seconds to play, to move to 6-2-1-0 in the season series against their longtime rival.
Grand Rapids finished 3-for-3 on the penalty kill and 0-for-2 on the power play.
Notes: Since the Admirals moved to Panther Arena prior to the 2016-17 season, the Griffins are 8-2 at Milwaukee in the regular season…The Griffins are 9-1-0-1 in their last 11 road games.
Three Stars: 1. GR Lorito (goal); 2. MIL Lindback (L, 28 saves); 3. GR McCollum (W, 21 saves)