11/24/2006 10:02 PM - GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – On a night when former defenseman Travis Richards’ no. 24 jersey was retired to the Van Andel Arena rafters, the Grand Rapids Griffins revived their offense with a 6-4 victory over the Chicago Wolves.
Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson’s first two AHL goals and Josh Langfeld’s three assists propelled Grand Rapids (7-9-2-1) to its highest-scoring period of the season, as the Griffins lit the lamp four times in the second en route to snapping their seven-game winless streak and handing the Wolves (13-5-1-0) just their second regulation loss in their last 12 outings. Grand Rapids will try to make it two straight wins on Saturday during an 8 p.m. visit to San Antonio.
Chicago’s AHL-leading offense struck first on the power play at 19:02 of the opening period. Darren Haydar blocked a clearing attempt at the blueline and quickly fed Cory Larose, who beat a screened Jimmy Howard low to the glove side.
Grand Rapids needed just 1:01 of the second period to even the score on an unassisted tally by Matt Hussey, who sped down the left side and unleashed a blast at the top of the circle that hit Michael Garnett’s arm before trickling across the line. The Griffins then earned their first lead at 2-1 less than five minutes later during a 4-on-4, as Danny Syvret collected an orphaned rebound in the slot and sent a wrist shot past Garnett at the 5:38 mark.
Ericsson’s first North American goal gave the Griffins a two-goal advantage and their first three-goal output in their last five home games. Sprung by a pass from Howard, the erstwhile centerman charged down the slot, split two defenders and flipped the puck over Garnett’s glove for a power play tally at 8:57. Ericsson added another marker during an advantage at 16:29 for the first two-goal game of his pro career, which began in the Swedish Elite League in 2003-04.
Darryl Bootland converted from the slot just 1:03 into the third period, giving the Griffins their first five-goal game since Nov. 4, their first four-goal lead since Nov. 3 and their first three power play-goal performance since the Oct. 6 season opener.
The Wolves refused to go quietly, however, tallying three goals in a span of 6:29. Colin Stuart banked in a wraparound at 6:23, Kyle Wanvig tipped a pass over Howard’s shoulder at 12:27, and Kevin Doell found a rebound for an easy tap-in inside the left post at 12:52. But Scott Barney’s first of the season at 15:19 – against his former team – gave the Griffins some much-needed breathing room and provided the final margin.
Out-shot 42-24 on the night, Chicago lost for just the second time in 12 road games.