MILWAUKEE – The Grand Rapids Griffins snapped a two-game losing streak and won their third straight contest against the division-leading Milwaukee Admirals in a 2-1 victory on Wednesday night at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
The Admirals (33-9-4-2) came into the matchup riding a five-game winning streak, where they have scored five or more goals in four of those contests. However, Calvin Pickard, who earned his fifth win in his past six AHL starts, and the Griffins’ defense was on full display throughout the game limiting the scoring chances. Tallies from Joe Veleno and Chase Pearson in the opening 5:46 was all Grand Rapids (21-21-2-4) needed to pull out the victory.
The Griffins, who took full control of the final playoff spot in the Central Division, will travel back to Van Andel Arena for a pivotal weekend series against the fifth-place Texas Stars beginning on Saturday at 7 p.m.
It was a hot start for the Griffins as they jumped out to an early lead 3:11 into the contest when Pearson knocked in a rebound attempt. Jarid Lukosevicius, in his first game since Jan. 11, fired a shot from the middle of the Admirals’ zone that was saved. It took two tries but Pearson was able to jam the puck into the net from inside the crease for his seventh of the year.
Grand Rapids made it a two-goal game just 2:35 later when Veleno netted his seventh tally of the season. Dylan McIlrath on the right wing hammered a shot from the blue line that was saved by Troy Grosenick, who had previously conceded only one goal in three games this year against the Griffins. The rebound slid to Veleno near the left post and he slipped a shot past the right leg of the netminder.
It was a dull middle frame that saw each team register three attempts in the opening 15:30. Pickard was called upon near the end of the period when Anthony Richard skated out on a breakaway but the goaltender made a kick save to keep the Admirals scoreless.
The Griffins nearly took a 3-0 lead with around eight minutes to play when Veleno broke out on a breakaway. Veleno’s point blank chance was saved by the netminder but the rebound was gathered by Chris Terry. Terry looked as though he would score his 18th goal of the season but his shot was somehow saved by a diving Grosenick to keep Milwaukee in the game.
The Admirals scored their lone goal with 3:11 remaining in the contest when Rem Pitlick netted his 16th of the campaign. Jeremy Davies blasted a shot from the center point that was deflected by Pitlick between the circles and over the left shoulder of Pickard.
The Admirals sent Grosenick to the bench with 1:07 left in the game but to no avail as the Griffins took the 2-1 victory and improved their season record to 3-1-0-0 in Milwaukee.
Notes: Milwaukee outshot Grand Rapids 30-24…The Griffins’ power play went 0-for-3 while the penalty kill went 1-for-1…Eric Tangradi returned from injury after missing 15 of the last 16 games…Grand Rapids has points in nine of the last 11 contests (7-2-0-2).
Three Stars: 1. GR Pickard (W, 29 saves); 2. GR Pearson (goal); 3. GR Veleno (game-winning goal)
[Post content courtesy of the Grand Rapids Griffins]