SAN ANTONIO – The Grand Rapids Griffins halted their four-game losing skid when they took home a 4-3 victory in their final road game against the San Antonio Rampage at the AT&T Center on Tuesday.
A three-goal second frame, including two tallies from Turner Elson, helped propel the Griffins (27-26-3-4) to their eighth win in the last 12 meetings in San Antonio. The Rampage (24-22-7-5) cut the deficit to one with 4:30 remaining but Pat Nagle and the Griffins’ defense closed the door in final minutes after giving up a season-high 47 shots. This was the last regular season game in San Antonio for the Griffins as the Rampage will be moving to Las Vegas starting next year. After earning the two points, Grand Rapids moved into third place in the Central Division by themselves with 61 points.
The Griffins will conclude their four-game road trip when they take on the Rockford IceHogs on Friday at 8 p.m. EST.
Despite being outshot 12-2 in the opening 10 minutes, the Griffins scored first on a power play when Matt Puempel tallied his 15th of the year. With 8:34 remaining, Chris Terry sent a pass through the zone from the right boards toward Puempel. Puempel gathered the puck at the top of the left circle and fired a rocket that ricocheted off the right post and into the net. This marked the fifth consecutive game that the Griffins have scored on a power play against San Antonio.
The Rampage tied the contest heading into the first intermission when they scored on the man advantage at the 16:19 mark. From the high slot, Mitch Reinke connected with Derrick Pouliot inside the right circle. Pouliot hammered a one-timer that sailed past the blocker of Nagle for his seventh of the campaign. The Griffins had previously killed off 27 straight road penalties, last allowing a goal at 16:47 of the first period on Jan. 31 at Iowa.
Terry scored his 20th of the season for the fourth straight year in the AHL at 4:01 in the middle frame to regain the lead for Grand Rapids. Chase Pearson gained control of the puck behind the net and took a shot near the right post that was saved. However, the disk slid to Terry in front of the crease and his backhand attempt beat the glove of Adam Wilcox.
The Rampage continued to rack up their shot total but it was Grand Rapids who took a 3-1 advantage on its third attempt of the period with 13:03 remaining. The Griffins forced a turnover and Elson skated down the ice into the center point. Elson then smashed a wrist shot that beat the blocker of Wilcox.
The Griffins scored their fifth shorthanded tally of the season when Elson netted his second of the contest at the 12:37 mark to increase the lead to three. Elson weaved his way down the length of the ice and into the left circle, where he rifled an attempt that darted into the top right corner. Elson’s two-goal game was his first of the season and has lit the lamp nine times this year. Ville Husso came in to relieve Wilcox, who ended the game with six saves.
San Antonio made it a 4-2 contest just two minutes later when Jordan Nolan scored a shorthanded goal for his 11th of the campaign. From along the right boards in the Rampage zone, Ryan Olsen kicked a pass to Nolan who skated out on a breakaway. Nagle made the save on the initial attempt but the rebound was jammed home by Nolan at the right post.
The Rampage took advantage of another power play at the 15:30 mark of the final period to make it a one-goal game. From the top of the right circle, Josh Ho-Sang threaded the needle and found Klim Kostin at the bottom of the left circle. Kostin rifled a one-timer over the stick of Nagle, but San Antonio failed to find the tying goal and the Griffins took the 4-3 win.
Notes: Nagle finished with a season-high 44 saves…Grand Rapids was held to 20 shots, which tied a season low…The Griffins’ power play went 1-for-3 while the penalty kill ended 4-for-6…Puempel extended his point streak to four games (1-4—5)…Grand Rapids finished with an all-time road record of 26-18-0-2-1 in San Antonio.
Three Stars: 1. GR Elson (two goals); 2. GR Terry (goal, assist); 3. SA Pouliot (goal, assist)
[Post content courtesy of the Grand Rapids Griffins]