ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Grand Rapids Griffins snapped a three-game losing streak to the Chicago Wolves and took sole ownership of third place in the Central Division with a 5-2 victory at Allstate Arena on Saturday night.
After falling behind 1-0 late in the first period, the Griffins (24-22-3-4) scored five unanswered goals to take the road victory. Givani Smith and Matthew Ford both tallied two goals in the contest, while Jarid Lukosevicius light the lamp in consecutive games for the second time in his career. Pat Nagle earned his third straight victory behind 17 saves and improved his record to 5-1 in his last seven outings. Grand Rapids now has points in 13 of its last 16 games (10-3-1-2).
The Griffins will continue their three-game road trip when they travel to face the Rockford IceHogs on Tuesday at 8 p.m. EST.
Despite being outshot 12-2 in the opening 15 minutes, the Wolves (24-22-3-2) scored at the 18:04 mark to take their only lead of the contest. Skating out on a 2-on-1 break, Lucas Elvenes found Jake Leschyshyn at the bottom of the left circle. Leschyshyn’s one-timer sailed over the blocker of Nagle for his fourth tally of the season.
Grand Rapids responded 32 seconds later when Smith netted his fifth of the year and first of two on the night. Dennis Cholowski fired a shot from the left wing that was saved by Oscar Dansk, but the rebound slid to the right side of the net and Smith tapped the puck in. Cholowski has now registered an assist in three straight contests.
On their first attempt of the second period, the Griffins took a 2-1 lead when Lukosevicius netted his sixth of the year 2:59 into the frame. Ford hammered a shot from the middle of the zone that was deflected by Lukosevicius in front of the net and the puck floated into the left corner.
Ford made it a two-goal contest at the 11:16 mark when he scored his first of two on the night. From the blue line, Joe Hicketts found Ford at the left circle and he skated along the boards and into the high slot. Ford’s wrist shot sped through traffic and past the five-hole of Dansk. Chase Pearson was credited with the second assist and now has four helpers in the past two games.
The Griffins took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play when Ford tallied his 10th of the season 3:51 into the final period. Chris Terry from the left point found Ford in the middle of the zone above the circles. Ford rifled a shot through multiple defenders that ricocheted off the right post and into the net.
The Wolves failed to respond and Grand Rapids scored its fifth-straight goal with 12:59 remaining in the third to take a commanding 5-1 lead. From the right circle, Michael Rasmussen slipped a puck to Smith between the circles. Smith skated to the right side of the net and his shot beat the glove of the netminder for his sixth of the season.
Chicago cut the Griffins lead to three at 9:02 when Jake Bischoff tallied his second of the year. Bischoff skated around the net and his wraparound attempt at the right post beat the left skate of Nagle. Grand Rapids held true for the remainder of the game to take a 5-2 victory and outshot the Wolves 28-19.
Notes: The Griffins’ power play went 1-for-5 while the penalty kill went 2-for-2…Taro Hirose saw his team-high seven-game assist streak (0-10—10) come to an end…Evgeny Svechnikov’s career-high four-game goal streak also came to an end.
Three Stars: 1. GR Ford (two goals, assist); 2. GR Smith (two goals); 3. GR Pearson (two assists)
[Post content courtesy of the Grand Rapids Griffins]