GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Luke Johnson’s goal with 0.6 seconds left in overtime completed the Rockford IceHogs’ comeback from a two-goal deficit and gave the visitors a 3-2 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Wednesday at Van Andel Arena.
With a shootout looming as the final seconds of an entertaining overtime ticked away and the IceHogs rushing up ice, Graham Knott fired a shot through traffic that Harri Sateri stopped, but Johnson popped home the rebound at the left post to lift Rockford to its second 3-2 overtime win in Grand Rapids this season (Dec. 14) and its third such decision overall in the series (Dec. 7).
Still, the Griffins (30-16-4-4) extended their home-ice point streak against the IceHogs to eight games (6-0-2-0) and increased their lead atop the Central Division to four points over Iowa. They’ll conclude their season-high seven-game homestand on Friday in a 7 p.m. start against the Texas Stars.
The Griffins, who needed more than 58 minutes to score their first goal in last Saturday’s incredible 3-2 overtime win against San Antonio, lit the lamp only 1:21 into this contest. Dennis Cholowski put a wrist shot on net from the left point that Anton Forsberg stopped, but Wade Megan was waiting just outside the paint to put away a backhand. With an assist on the play, Filip Zadina extended his personal season-high point streak to six games (4-4—8).
A power play goal by Matt Puempel doubled Grand Rapids’ cushion at the 16:06 mark. After Carter Camper’s slap shot from above the circles was denied by Forsberg’s blocker, Puempel chipped the puck into a gaping net from the left side for his 19th goal of the season.
Rockford (26-21-3-5) benefited from a fluky play to spark its rally 13:21 into the second period. From the right corner, Peter Holland – making his IceHogs debut after being traded by the New York Rangers to the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday – sent a pass into the circle for Jordan Schroeder, who fanned on his attempt at a one-timer. But Sateri committed to the expected shot, and when the puck instead slid cleanly through to Joni Tuulola in the high slot, the IceHogs blueliner put a shot just inside the left post before Sateri could dive across.
Down 2-1 entering the third, the IceHogs quickly tied it during a power play when Schroeder smacked the rebound of a Holland shot into the net from the bottom of the right circle at 1:19. The Griffins survived a late penalty to Brian Lashoff, who was whistled off for interference after leveling William Pelletier at center ice with 4:50 remaining, and the game progressed to overtime.
Thirty seconds into the extra session, Zadina nearly ended it with a dazzling spin-o-rama move in the high slot, but his backhand rang off the right post. After Sateri robbed Jacob Nilsson during a 2-on-1 and stoned a break by Knott, Forsberg answered by denying a Zadina breakaway with 1:21 left, and he made another save on Joe Hicketts with 14 seconds showing to set the stage for Johnson’s heroics.
Sateri made five saves in the wide-open overtime as part of his 26 on the night, while Forsberg’s four gave him 37 at the finish.
Three Stars: 1. RFD Johnson (overtime goal); 2. GR Puempel (power play goal); 3. RFD Schroeder (power play goal)
No goal here, but Filip Zadina flashing some serious skill. Nearly a highlight reel play. pic.twitter.com/OiPa7aXXog— Kyle M. (@KyleWIIM) February 21, 2019