GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Chicago Wolves leapt to a 4-0 lead in the first 40 minutes then ceded a pair of goals in the third period before tacking on an empty-netter for a 5-2 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Wednesday at Van Andel Arena.
Grand Rapids got a goal from Taro Hirose in his AHL debut but suffered its sixth regulation loss in a row, the team’s most since a franchise record-tying seven-game skid nearly 10 years ago (Jan. 17-Feb. 3, 2010).
The Griffins (9-13-1-1) will look to get back to the winning side of the ledger on Friday when they host the Rockford IceHogs at 7 p.m. in their final home game before a two-week, six-game holiday trip to California and Iowa.
Chicago (10-13-2-0) entered the night with problems of its own, having won just twice in its previous 11 tries, but tallied the crucial first goal with only 17 seconds left in the opening period. The Wolves connected on the last of four unanswered shots when Jake Bischoff’s slapper from above the left circle snuck through Calvin Pickard’s five-hole and trickled across the line.
Chicago then logged the first seven attempts of the second period en route to tripling its cushion on the scoreboard. Brayden Pachal’s point shot slid between the goalie’s wickets at 2:49, and Brandon Pirri took a pass at the Grand Rapids blue line with a step on Gustav Lindstrom and drove the left side before muscling a shot through Pickard’s pads at 10:31.
Grand Rapids soon awoke from its offensive slumber with a flurry of seven shots in less than two minutes to put pressure on Oscar Dansk, but the visitors went to the locker room up 4-0 following a point-blank power play goal at 18:22 by Valentin Zykov.
Hirose, assigned by the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday along with Filip Zadina, put the Griffins on the board 3:14 into the third period. Givani Smith beat Zach Whitecloud in a battle for the puck in the right corner and immediately centered a pass into the slot for a charging Hirose, who redirected the puck past Dansk on his only shot of the night.
Evgeny Svechnikov pulled the Griffins within two at 19:01 with a power play goal from the top of the left circle, but Tye McGinn fired a shot into an empty net from the top of his own circles with three seconds left for the final margin.
Pickard stopped 21 of 25 shots while Dansk finished with 28 saves. Each team went 1-for-4 on the power play.
Notes: This marked Ben Simon’s 100th regular season game as the Griffins’ head coach. He owns a cumulative record of 47-40-8-5 (0.535)…Two key offensive pieces for the Griffins, Michael Rasmussen and Matt Puempel, missed their ninth and seventh consecutive games, respectively, due to injury…Chicago’s visit to Van Andel Arena was its first since Game 4 of the 2019 Central Division Semifinals on April 24, a series the Wolves went on to win 3-2 as their first step on the way to a Calder Cup Finals appearance.
Three Stars: 1. CHI Dansk (W, 28 saves); 2. CHI Pirri (game-winning goal, assist); 3. GR Hirose (goal)
[Post content courtesy of the Grand Rapids Griffins]