GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Patrik Rybar turned aside all 24 shots he faced and Wade Meganand Matt Puempel both chipped in two-point games as the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Milwaukee Admirals 3-0 on Saturday night at a sold-out Van Andel Arena.
Megan continued his solid play in the new year and has factored in to five of the Griffins’ last six tallies, while Puempel produced his team-leading 13th multi-point game of the campaign. Rybar, who led the Czech Extraliga with seven shutouts last season, picked up his first clean sheet on North American soil.
In addition to improving their record to 23-13-3-4 (53 points) and maintaining their position atop the Central Division standings, the Griffins also earned the franchise’s 950th all-time regular season victory tonight. Grand Rapids leads the division by two over both the Chicago Wolves and Iowa Wild.
Milwaukee (19-16-6-1) sees its winless streak stretched to five (0-4-1-0).
The Griffins, who have points in five consecutive contests at the Van, continue their four-game homestand on Wednesday when they host the Manitoba Moose at 7 p.m. Before that however, Griffins players, coaches and staff will be making their way to Rosa Parks Circle for the annual Great Skate Winterfest, which is currently underway and lasts until 10 p.m. Sunday.
Despite being outshot 13-2 in the opening period, spending six minutes shorthanded and not recording a shot on goal until 2:15 remaining, it was the Griffins who took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. After a rolling puck was corralled in the Milwaukee zone, Megan and Puempel skated in on a 2-on-1. Speeding up the left side, Megan slid a pass toward the right post to Puempel, who put home his 100th career AHL goal past the blocker of Tom McCollum at 19:53.
Grand Rapids evened out the shot differential in the second period, outgunning the visitors 15-4. The Griffins had three power play chances in the frame, including a 5-on-3 for 1:47 but were unable to pad their lead. McCollum made 15 saves in the middle stanza and finished the contest with 25.
Grand Rapids converted on the power play at 13:43 of the third period to extend its advantage to 2-0, thanks to the tandem of Megan and Puempel again. From between the top of the left circle and the blue line, Puempel teed up a shot. After a left pad save by McCollum, Megan was waiting on the doorstep to shovel the puck in for his eighth marker of the campaign. Grand Rapids concluded the evening 1-for-4 on the man-advantage while halting all four of Milwaukee’s power play opportunities.
Milwaukee pulled McCollum for the extra attacker with 2:20 left in regulation, but to no avail as Givani Smith put the finishing touches on the victory with an empty-net goal at 18:18.
Notes: Since being assigned by Detroit on Jan. 3, Megan has a team-high 10 points (5-5—10) in eight games in 2019…The Griffins shut out an opponent in the regular season for the first time since March 11, 2018 at Hershey...Tonight’s capacity crowd of 10,834 marked the third sellout of the season…Tonight was the 180th all-time regular season meeting between the two longtime rivals…The special fan-designed jerseys the Griffins sported were auctioned off after the game with proceeds benefiting the Griffins Youth Foundation…Vili Saarijarvi skated in his 100th game as a pro…Chris Terry, the league’s leading goal scorer and the Griffins’ top point producer, missed his third consecutive game due to injury…Since the 2013-14 campaign, the Griffins are 37-16-2-1 against the Admirals, including 20-7-1-1 on home ice…The Griffins have won 10 of their last 12 on the second night of a back to back.
Three Stars: 1. GR Rybar (SO, 24 saves); 2. GR Megan (power play goal, assist); 3. GR Puempel (goal, assist)