01/26/2008 9:53 PM
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Leading 3-2 late in the second period, the Grand Rapids Griffins surrendered three goals over the final 22:30 to drop a hard-fought 5-3 decision to the Chicago Wolves on Saturday at Van Andel Arena.
After Darren Helm’s penalty shot goal had given the Griffins their first lead of the night and ignited the second-largest home crowd of the season (9,802), Chicago rallied on a shorthanded breakaway, a bounce-in off a Grand Rapids defenseman and an empty-netter to avenge its 5-2 loss to the Griffins last Sunday at Allstate Arena.
The Griffins (18-21-2-5) now will embark on a season-high six-game road swing, beginning with Thursday’s tilt against the Peoria Rivermen. Game time is 8 p.m. EST.
After denying the Griffins on two power play chances in the opening minutes, Chicago cashed in on its first opportunity. Darren Haydar walked in and beat a screened Jimmy Howard with a shot inside the right post at the 13:37 mark.
Seconds after Grand Rapids had killed off another Wolves advantage, Mark Hartigan led a rush into the Chicago zone, pulled up at the top of the right circle and snapped a quick shot past Ondrej Pavelec at 16:10, popping the water bottle off the top of the cage and making it a 1-1 game at intermission.
Early in the second period, Grand Rapids squandered a four-minute power play that included a two-man advantage for 57 seconds. Former Griffin Joel Kwiatkowski capitalized during a Chicago power play a short time later, slamming the puck home from the left faceoff dot at 7:41 for a 2-1 Wolves cushion.
Grand Rapids fought back once again to knot the score, finally converting during a power play when Mark Cullen’s slap shot from the high slot snuck inside the left post with 7:27 remaining in the middle frame. The Griffins then took their only lead on a rare penalty shot goal 1:30 later, when Helm connected for just the fourth successful attempt in franchise history and the first since Dec. 17, 2002. Grand Rapids had failed on its previous seven opportunities.
Chicago tied it at 3-3 prior to the second horn, with Kevin Doell scoring on a shorthanded break at 17:30, and the Wolves took their third lead of the game just 1:05 into the third period, as Jason Krog’s centering pass from the left boards bounced off Kyle Quincey and across the line to put the visitors up 4-3. Soon after, Grand Rapids killed off a four-minute penalty, including 1:28 of 5-on-3 time, to stay in the contest, and Howard stopped a breakaway by Jesse Schultz with four minutes left, but Krog tallied into Howard’s vacated net at 18:52 for the final margin.
Howard was solid in defeat, turning aside 32 shots, while Pavelec helped Chicago (31-12-1-0) break a two-game skid by making 29 saves.