Milwaukee Admirals 3 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 4 OT
Dec. 31, 2017
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins are playing their best hockey of the season as they turn the page to 2018. The defending Calder Cup champions defeated the Milwaukee Admirals 4-3 in overtime on Sunday at a sold-out Van Andel Arena to extend their winning streak to three games and their point streak to five (4-0-0-1), both season-highs.
Evgeny Svechnikov recorded the third two-goal game of his career – all against Milwaukee – and Matthew Ford scored on the power play 1:20 into overtime for his seventh goal in his last seven outings, after Grand Rapids had squandered a 3-0 third-period lead.
The Griffins, now just a game below .500 (14-15-1-4) and three points behind fourth-place Milwaukee (16-12-4-0) in the Central Division playoff race, will kick off the 2018 portion of their schedule on Wednesday when they visit the Admirals for a rematch at 8 p.m. EST.
Matt Puempel opened the scoring for Grand Rapids 5:12 into the first period, lighting the lamp for the third straight game since returning from injury. From the left boards, Dan Renouf deftly threw a pass all the way across to the right faceoff dot, where Puempel was waiting to whip a shot over Anders Lindback’s glove. With his 12th goal of the campaign, Puempel has now scored in six of his last seven contests.
Lindback kept it a 1-0 game through 20 minutes by making a brilliant save on a Matt Lorito breakaway with 1:50 left in the frame. Lorito exited the penalty box, took a stretch pass from Dominic Turgeon and skated in alone on the Milwaukee goal, trying a backhand that ticked off Lindback’s glove before bouncing harmlessly off the right post.
Svechnikov, who had scored one goal all season until connecting in last night’s 5-3 win at Cleveland, tallied twice in a span of 1:07 late in the second period to make it a 3-0 game. He one-timed a pass from Axel Holmstrom atop the right circle during a power play at 15:30, then hammered home a Filip Hronek feed from the left hashmarks for his first multi-goal game since Jan. 13 at Milwaukee and his first at home since Dec. 21, 2016 against the Admirals.
Trevor Smith ruined Jared Coreau’s shutout bid with a power play goal 1:15 into the third. Frederic Allard’s shot went wide of the net but caromed off the end boards right to Smith, who quickly chipped the puck into the net at the right post.
The Admirals pulled within one at the 13:41 mark on Bobby Butler’s 100th AHL goal, as he snapped a shot past Coreau’s blocker from high in the left circle off an assist from Smith.
Milwaukee notched its third goal of the period and the equalizer on a fluky play with 1:52 remaining. Frederick Gaudreau’s stick snapped as he fired from the left point, and the off-speed puck slipped through traffic and under Coreau to send the game to overtime.
Smith was whistled off for goaltender interference 12 seconds into the extra session, and Ford made the visitors pay by ending the game with a sharp-angle shot from along the left goal line off a pass from Ben Street. It marked the team-leading 14th goal of the campaign for Grand Rapids’ captain.
Coreau finished with 27 saves to improve to 3-0-1 in his last four appearances, while Lindback countered with 38 stops.
Notes: The sellout crowd of 10,834 was the Griffins’ fifth straight on New Year’s Eve and their ninth in the 21 years that they’ve hosted a game on Dec. 31…Grand Rapids went 2-for-4 on the power play; Milwaukee was 1-for-5…The Griffins won their third game in as many nights, beating a Milwaukee squad that was idle on Saturday…Grand Rapids posted a winning record for the eighth consecutive December, going 6-5-1-2.
Three Stars: 1. GR Svechnikov (two goals); 2. MIL Smith (power play goal, assist); 3. GR Ford (overtime goal)