DES MOINES, Iowa – The Grand Rapids Griffins capped off their season-high six-game road trip with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Iowa Wild on Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena.
The Griffins (12-15-2-2) took a 3-2 lead with 10:59 left in the final frame when Chris Terry netted his team-high 13th of the season. However, the Wild (16-11-2-2) scored the game’s final two goals including Dmitry Sokolov’s game-winner in overtime with 45 seconds remaining.
Grand Rapids returns to Van Andel Arena for the first time since Dec. 6 as they host the Milwaukee Admirals on Dec. 27 at 7 p.m.
The Griffins started the contest strong and created multiple scoring chances, none better than Dennis Cholowski’s shot from the left circle that rattled the crossbar 1:30 into the contest. However, it was the Wild who scored first on a shorthanded tally at 7:34.
The Wild skated out on a 2-on-1 break and Connor Dewar took an initial shot from just outside the crease that was saved by Pat Nagle, who made his fourth AHL appearance for the Griffins this season. The rebound slid toward the right goalpost and Will Bitten was able to tap in the puck beating the left skate of Nagle.
Grand Rapids trailed in the second frame for 1:15 before Taro Hirose scored his fourth of the year and extended his point streak to three games (1-2—3). Matt Puempel skated into the left faceoff circle on a 2-on-1 break and sent a puck through the Wild’s zone to Hirose on the right wing. Hirose’s one-timer sailed over the catching glove of Kaapo Kahkonen to tie the game 1-1.
The Griffins took their first lead of the game just 1:18 later when Eric Tangradi netted his fifth goal in seven games since returning to Grand Rapids on Dec. 6. An Iowa defender passed a puck straight to Tangradi in front of the crease and he snapped it into the left corner of the net.
Grand Rapids dominated much of the second and allowed one shot in the opening 9:30. However, Iowa’s second shot of the period was able to beat the stick of Nagle to tie the game 2-2 at the 12:22 mark. Colton Beck backhanded a puck from the center of the zone toward the bottom of the left circle to Kyle Rau. Rau rifled a shot over the right shoulder of Nagle for his sixth of the year.
The Griffins entered the final frame with a 22-14 shot advantage and regained the lead with 10:59 left in regulation. Turner Elson hammered a shot from the left boards and Terry was able to deflect the puck over the glove of Kahkonen to break his two-game scoring drought and give Grand Rapids a 3-2 lead.
Iowa tied the game once more with 3:49 to play in the third when Bitten scored his second of the evening. Brennan Menell dropped a puck from the bottom of the right circle to the faceoff dot and Bitten’s one-timer slipped through the five-hole of Nagle. Neither team found a game-winner in the final minutes of regulation and the contest headed to overtime.
The Wild controlled much of the overtime period as they registered a 5-2 shot advantage. It was a quick turn of events that propelled Iowa to the final goal of the game. Hirose skated out on a breakaway and his shot was saved by Kahkonen, which lead to a 2-on-1 break for the Wild. Gerald Mayhew slotted a puck through the Griffins’ zone from the right wing that found Sokolov at the bottom of the left circle. Sokolov’s shot with 45 seconds remaining beat the right skate of Nagle to give Iowa the 4-3 victory.
Notes: Grand Rapids outshot the Wild 34-29…Nagle was credited with 25 saves…The Griffins penalty kill went 6-for-6 and have killed off 30 straight penalties…Goaltender Jacob Etzel, who signed an amateur tryout prior to the game to serve as an emergency backup, was released after the contest.
Three Stars: 1. IA Sokolov (OT game-winner); 2. IA Bitten (two goals); 3. IA Mayhew (assist)
[Post content courtesy of the Grand Rapids Griffins]