TUCSON, Ariz. – Two third period goals pushed the game out of reach as the Grand Rapids Griffins fell to the Tucson Roadrunners, 3-0, on Friday night at the Tucson Convention Center Arena. The defeat snapped the Griffins’ seven-game point streak.
The magic number to get into the playoffs remains at three for Grand Rapids with four games remaining on the regular season schedule. Tucson is the only team in the Western Conference that has clinched a playoff spot.
The Griffins (39-25-1-7) are back in action against the same Roadrunners (39-19-5-1) team tomorrow night in Tucson. The puck will drop at 10:05 EDT.
Nobody lit the lamp in the first stanza, but each team had quality chances. Lawson Crouse took a shot from the high slot that hit Tom McCollum in the left pad which nearly caught the goaltender off guard. Two backhand shots from the Griffins nearly trickled into the net. Grand Rapids held the AHL’s 7th-ranked power play to a 0-for-2 mark in the opening period.
In the second period, Crouse scored his 11th goal of the year with 9:42 left in the second frame. The left winger got behind the defense after a slick feed from Carter Camper which led to the goal with a backhanded shot.
Axel Holmstrom had a knuckleball-like shot from the left point midway through the second period that nearly got past Adin Hill. The screened puck deflected off of an object and dipped just as Hill caught it in his glove.
Ryan MacInnis added his sixth goal of the season from the right circle at the 5:11 mark of the third frame. The cross-ice pass from Lane Pederson led to the open shot that sent the puck flying over McCollum’s right shoulder.
Matt Puempel and Zach Nastasiuk each had their own chance at glory. Puempel’s opportunity came from in front of the net, while Nastasiuk had a wide open net, but the goaltender made a stick save that had the crowd buzzing.
With 3:24 remaining in regulation, the Griffins pulled McCollum to provide an extra attacker. However, the Roadrunners tallied an empty goal with 51 seconds left for Tye McGinn’s 9th goal. Grand Rapids could only muster two more shots before the final horn sounded.
McCollum made 25 saves on the night in a losing effort, while Hill pushed aside 26 shots.
Each team finished 0-for-4 on the power play.
Three Stars: 1. TUC Hill (W, 26 saves, SO); 2. TUC Crouse (goal); 3. TUC MacInnis (goal)