ROSEMONT, Ill. – Three goals during the second period proved to be the difference for the Chicago Wolves on Saturday, as they tied the Central Division Semifinals with a 3-2 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins at Allstate Arena.
After earning a road split against the division champs to seize home-ice advantage in the best-of-five series, the Griffins will return to Van Andel Arena to host Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday. Game time each night is 7 p.m.
The Wolves painted a target on Givani Smith’s back at the start of what was to be a chippy and contentious game, as he drew holding and boarding penalties on Chicago before the eight-minute mark, but the Griffins were unable to capitalize on either power play opportunity.
Fresh off his impressive 29-save effort in Game 1 on Friday, Harri Sateri was sharp between the Griffins’ pipes during the opening period, stopping all 11 Chicago shots while his teammates fired 10 of their own at Max Lagace, who replaced Game 1 starter Oscar Dansk.
The Wolves lit the scoreboard first at the 7:38 mark of the second period, only to see Grand Rapids respond on a similar play 40 seconds later. After Grand Rapids was unable to get the puck out of its zone, Tye McGinn carried it to the top of the right circle before centering a pass for Tomas Hyka, who blasted it past Sateri from the high slot. But after two quick Griffins passes created a 2-on-1 in the neutral zone, Christoffer Ehn pulled up in the right circle and sent a feed across to Colin Campbell for a one-timer that gave him two goals in as many nights.
Chicago reclaimed the lead with a power play goal at 12:58, as a Zach Whitecloud slap shot from the point sailed into the top right corner of the net, but the damage to the Griffins turned out to be much greater than the one-goal deficit. Veteran defenseman Brian Lashoff, second on the franchise’s games played list for both the regular season and playoffs, had fallen to the ice at the blueline along the left boards while challenging Hyka’s entry into the zone, and he stayed down for 10 seconds as officials allowed play to continue before the Wolves scored what was essentially a 5-on-3 goal. Lashoff was eventually helped off the ice, unable to put weight on his left leg, and he did not return.
It quickly became a 3-1 game, as just 44 seconds later Keegan Kolesar popped home a rebound from the slot during a 4-on-4, and the Wolves held that advantage into the final period.
With under 14 minutes remaining in the third, Sateri lunged and stuck out his right pad to deny a point-blank try by McGinn to keep the margin at two, but the Griffins struggled to get pucks through to Lagace on the other end, as the Wolves did yeoman’s work in front of their netminder to block numerous shot attempts.
A crafty play by Chris Terry gave the Griffins their second goal with 4:30 remaining. Collecting the puck below the goal line in the right corner, he tossed it on net and banked it off Lagace’s left arm and over the line. Lagace made a sprawling save on Carter Camper on the doorstep two minutes later, as the Griffins were pulling Sateri for an extra attacker, and despite additional pressure Grand Rapids was unable to net the equalizer. Lagace finished with 26 saves to Sateri’s 24.
The Griffins went 0-for-4 on the power play while Chicago converted one of its three attempts.
Notes: Chicago snapped its seven-game losing streak in the postseason, which included four straight losses to Grand Rapids dating back to their clash in the 2017 Central Division Finals…All time, the Griffins are 1-2 in best-of-five series that were tied at one game apiece…Grand Rapids is now 4-0 against the Wolves this season when not allowing a power play goal and 0-6 when surrendering one.
Three Stars: 1. CHI Whitecloud (power play goal); 2. CHI Lagace (W, 26 saves); 3. CHI McGinn (assist)