GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Filip Zadina tallied a season-high three points and Chris Terry forced overtime on a power play goal with 3:10 remaining, but the Belleville Senators prevailed in the eventual shootout on Friday to take a 4-3 decision over the Grand Rapids Griffins at Van Andel Arena.
Despite the shootout setback, the Griffins (20-12-3-4) at least temporarily moved into a tie with Iowa atop the Central Division at 47 points, pending the outcome of tonight’s Mountain Time Zone game between Chicago (46 points) and Tucson. They also continued to prove hard to kill at home, as they’ve earned points in 16 of their 19 games within friendly confines (12-3-1-3) this season.
On the heels of their first-ever meeting in West Michigan, the Griffins and Senators will stage an encore at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Playing his first home game since Dec. 19 following his tour of duty with the Czech Republic at the World Junior Championship, Zadina needed just 4:04 to pot the game’s first goal. He pressured Jordan Murray into a turnover along the right boards just inside the Belleville zone, powered around him in the circle then put a shot through Filip Gustavsson’s pads from the slot while surrounded by two other defenders.
The Senators (18-20-2-0) answered with a power play goal just before intermission. Unmarked to the left of Patrik Rybar’s net, Jack Rodewald took a feed from Logan Brown and had the time and space to turn around and go forehand-backhand-forehand before roofing a shot into the far corner with 47 seconds showing on the clock.
Zadina struck again 2:11 into the second period for his 10th goal of the season. He stood alone on the back door and slammed home a cross-ice slap pass from Jake Chelios, but Belleville responded just 2:20 later to make it a 2-2 game as Max McCormick crashed the net to fire a rebound by Rybar’s blocker.
Belleville grabbed its first lead just past the halfway point of the third period, with Joseph LaBate positioning himself on the doorstep to redirect Erik Burgdoerfer’s blast from the right point at 10:59.
The Griffins called their timeout with 3:35 remaining and 56 seconds left on their third power play chance of the night, taking the opportunity to pull Rybar for an extra attacker to create a 6-on-4 advantage. The strategy paid off in the form of Chris Terry’s league-leading 23rd goal of the campaign, as he one-timed a pass from Zadina at the top of the right circle at the 16:50 mark.
That goal snapped Grand Rapids’ 0-for-18 power play drought that had spanned more than four games, dating to Carter Camper’s goal midway through the second period of their New Year’s Eve contest.
The Griffins hit two posts and had several other scoring chances during the scoreless overtime while surviving a desperate scramble around their own goal in the final two minutes of the extra stanza. In the shootout, Gustavsson denied Dominic Turgeon, Zadina and Terry in succession, while Adam Tambellini and Drake Batherson came up empty for the Senators before Brown brought down the curtain with a backhanded shovel over Rybar’s glove.Gustavsson finished with 32 saves for Belleville while Rybar, who extended his personal point streak to five games (3-0-2), turned aside 20 shots.
Notes: On the season, Zadina has twice as many two-goal games (four) as one-goal outings (two)…Each team went 1-for-3 on the power play…The Griffins, who served as the primary affiliate of the Ottawa Senators from 1999-2002, hosted their former parent club’s AHL affiliate for the first time since Jan. 15, 2003, when they forged a 2-2 tie against the Binghamton Senators.
Three Stars: 1. GR Zadina (two goals, one assist); 2. BEL LaBate (goal); 3. GR Terry (power play goal)