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GRIFFINS GET LAST LAUGH

Milwaukee Admirals 1 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 2

Nov. 5, 2017

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
– The Grand Rapids Griffins scored a pair of power play goals in the final eight minutes on Sunday to snap out of a goal-scoring drought and steal a 2-1 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals at Van Andel Arena.

Including Friday’s 2-0 home loss to Chicago, the Griffins had fired 64 consecutive shots without a goal until Filip Hronek teed up a blast from center ice that managed to dip past the glove of Matt O’Connor, who to that point had stopped 31 shots in a bid for what would have been his first shutout in 73 career AHL games.

Tyler Bertuzzi then popped home a rebound for his first goal of the season in just his second game since returning from injury, and the Griffins held on down the stretch to pull back to within a game of the .500-mark at 5-6-0-1.

Grand Rapids will stage its annual matinee game at 11 a.m. on Wednesday against the San Antonio Rampage before embarking on an 11-day, five-game, four-city road trip.

Following a scoreless first period in which the Griffins held a 10-8 edge in shots, Grand Rapids was unable to capitalize on 23 seconds of 5-on-3 power play time early in the middle frame. Milwaukee (6-4-0-0) received its own two-man advantage for 19 seconds later in the period but was kept off the board by Tom McCollum’s third stellar glove save of the afternoon, as he robbed Emil Pettersson on a backdoor play at the right post.

Milwaukee finally solved McCollum at the 16:48 mark when Tyler Moy collected a rebound in the left circle and quickly fired a wrist shot inside the left post.

That 1-0 score carried into the second intermission, marking the fifth consecutive scoreless home period for the Griffins, their longest stretch since they were shut out in consecutive games at Van Andel Arena on Jan. 23 and 27, 2016. They accumulated 60 fruitless shots over that 100-minute span, with Chicago’s Kasimir Kaskisuo making 33 saves in the Wolves’ win on Friday and O’Connor stopping 27 through 40 minutes tonight.

O’Connor’s good fortune ran out 12:24 into the third. Hronek skated back to retrieve a puck in his zone, sped up the middle of the ice and launched a slap shot from just past the red line that snuck through O’Connor, snapping the Griffins’ home scoreless streak at 114:02. Bertuzzi then tallied the Griffins’ second power play marker in a span of 1:25, slamming home a rebound from the doorstep to put Grand Rapids on top 2-1.

Corey Elkins inadvertently aided Milwaukee’s comeback attempt by incurring a pair of hooking penalties in the final six minutes, but the Griffins killed off the first while the second was soon neutralized by a boarding call on Alexandre Carrier.

McCollum finished with 33 saves to earn his first victory of the season, while O’Connor turned aside 36 shots in defeat.

Notes: Including its 3-0 sweep of the 2017 Central Division Semifinals and a 6-3 win in Milwaukee on Wednesday, Grand Rapids has won six consecutive meetings against the Admirals, who entered today’s game in first place in the division…The Griffins went 2-for-9 on the power play, marking their most opportunities since Feb. 5, 2016, when they went 4-for-10 in a 9-1 win at Rockford…Milwaukee was blanked on seven power play chances by a Grand Rapids penalty killing unit that has denied all 15 opponent power plays over the last three games.

Three Stars: 1. GR McCollum (W, 33 saves); 2. GR Bertuzzi (game-winning goal); 3. MIL O’Connor (L, 36 saves)