GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
Saturday was an evening Jiri Hudler will not soon forget. The Griffins sniper ignited a capacity crowd at Van Andel Arena by scoring with 20 seconds remaining in overtime, giving Grand Rapids a hard-fought 5-4 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals. Hudlers night got even better immediately after the game, when he became the fifth Griffin this season to be recalled by the Detroit Red Wings.
Admirals center Rich Peverley scored during a scramble with 9.6 seconds left in regulation to force the extra session, but Hudlers heroics taking a carom off the end boards and quickly stuffing the puck inside the right post gave the Griffins (17-5-0-2) their twelfth come-from-behind win this season and Milwaukee (13-5-1-1) just its third loss in its last 16 games.
The Griffins, who maintain their one-point lead over Manitoba in the North Division, will welcome the Hamilton Bulldogs to town for a 7 p.m. start on Wednesday.
Grand Rapids dominated the opening period, accumulating an 11-0 advantage in shots over the first six minutes, before finally breaking through with a shorthanded goal at 11:18. Darryl Bootland stripped an Admiral of the puck in the left corner and took a sharp-angle shot from along the goal line that deflected off goalie Pekka Rinne and into the net.
Despite the disparity in play, the Admirals clawed back with a pair of similar goals to grab a 2-1 lead. With 2:01 remaining in the first, Peverley fired a shot from the top of the left circle that a crashing Timofei Shishkanov tipped past Drew MacIntyre from the doorstep. Milwaukee went ahead 3:17 into the second, just moments after a Grand Rapids penalty expired, with Greg Classen deflecting Peverleys shot through MacIntyres five-hole.
The Admirals extended their cushion at the 10:28 mark of the period, as Jordin Tootoo streaked off the bench to beat MacIntyre with a blistering one-timer low to the glove side. Undeterred by the 3-1 deficit, the Griffins worked to get even before the second intermission. During a power play at 15:26, Kyle Quincey launched a rocket from the top of the left circle. Tomas Kopecky then potted the equalizer with only 9.4 seconds remaining in the frame, skating across the slot with the puck and patiently waiting for Rinne to make his move, before sliding it behind the netminder and inside the far post.
Hudlers beautiful pass with 3:28 left in the third culminated in a 4-on-3 power play tally by Valtteri Filppula, giving the Griffins a short-lived 4-3 advantage and setting the stage for the dramatic scores by both teams. The victory marked the fifth for Grand Rapids this season in a game in which it had trailed by two goals.