ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Grand Rapids Griffins won their fourth straight contest for the first time this season and earned their second consecutive victory over the Chicago Wolves with a 3-2 win on Thursday afternoon at Allstate Arena.
The Griffins (26-22-3-4) trailed 1-0 heading into the final period after Chicago tallied the only goal 1:10 into the contest. However, Grand Rapids scored three unanswered in the opening 8:44 of the third to hold off the Wolves (25-23-3-2) and capped off a three-game road trip that ended with a 3-0-0-0 record. Pat Nagle made his fourth straight start, which ties for his AHL career best, and earned his fifth win in just as many games behind 28 saves. With points in 15 of their last 18 games (12-3-1-2), the Griffins moved four points ahead of Chicago who sit in fourth place in the Central Division with two games in hand.
The Griffins will return to Van Andel Arena for a weekend series against the San Antonio Rampage that begins on Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Wolves controlled the run of play in the opening period and netted the first goal 1:10 into the contest when Brandon Pirri tallied his 12th of the season. Patrick Brown won a faceoff at the left circle and the puck slid to Pirri in the center of the zone. Pirri’s quick one-timer sped over the glove of Nagle and into the right corner.
After registering six attempts in the first frame, the Griffins’ offense came to life in the second half of the middle period. Dominic Turgeon on a 2-on-1 break fired a shot from the right wing that was saved by Oscar Dansk with 9:04 remaining. Jarid Lukosevicius nearly tied the game with his wraparound attempt at the left post at 13:50, but Dansk was able to hold onto the puck and keep the Griffins scoreless heading into the third.
After a quality power play to start the period, the Griffins used that momentum to tie the game at the 2:53 mark when Tyler Spezia scored his sixth of the year. Joe Hicketts sent a puck toward the net from the blue line that was deflected to Spezia on the left wing. Spezia skated behind the net and his wraparound shot snuck inside the right post. Spezia has now scored in consecutive games for the first time in his career.
Grand Rapids took the lead with 13:22 remaining in the contest when Kyle Wood netted his first goal as a Griffin after being assigned by Detroit on Dec. 12. Along the right boards, Matthew Ford dropped the puck back to Wood sitting at the blue line. Wood skated into the right point and blasted a shot through traffic and into the left corner.
Just 2:04 later the Griffins made it a two-goal game when Joe Veleno tallied his ninth of the campaign. Taro Hirose gathered the puck behind the net and found Veleno in front of the crease. Veleno moved to the right side of the goal mouth and backhanded a shot past the outstretched glove of Dansk.
Grand Rapids dominated much of the final frame as the Wolves failed to generate an attempt until the 11:05 mark. Dansk skated off with around 2:40 to play and Chicago took advantage of the extra attacker and made it a one-goal contest with 2:05 remaining. Curtis McKenzie from the right side of the net sent the puck toward Valentin Zykov in front of the crease. Zykov rifled a one-timer past the glove of Nagle for his ninth of the season. The Griffins finished the game on a power play and took the 3-2 victory.
Notes: Chicago outshot Grand Rapids 30-25…The Griffins’ penalty kill went 5-for-5 while the power play went 0-for-4…Dennis Cholowski’s four-game point streak (1-4—5) ended…Evgeny Svechnikov saw his five-game point streak (5-3—8) come to an end.
Three Stars: 1. GR Veleno (game-winning goal); 2. GR Nagle (W, 28 saves); GR Wood (goal)
[Post content courtesy of the Grand Rapids Griffins]