01/23/2013 8:30 PM
Oklahoma City Barons 4 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 5 SO
Jan. 23, 2013
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – NHL veteran Mike Knuble’s Grand Rapids debut was a victorious one on Wednesday, as the Griffins staved off three Oklahoma City rallies to prevail over the Barons 5-4 in a shootout at Van Andel Arena.
Knuble, a product of East Kentwood High School who joined rookie teammate Luke Glendening as the only Greater Grand Rapids natives to ever play for the Griffins, earned his first AHL point in almost 16 years when he assisted on Tomas Tatar’s tally late in the second period.
Returning home from a three-game road trip, the Griffins posted their third straight victory overall and extended their home-ice point streak to four games (3-0-1-0), thanks in no small part to the play of goaltender Petr Mrazek. The AHL all-star stopped eight Barons shots during the five-minute overtime period before denying all four Oklahoma City attempts during the shootout.
First-place Grand Rapids (24-12-2-2), which increased its lead atop the Midwest Division to nine points over Chicago, will welcome the Houston Aeros to town for a Friday-Saturday set, with faceoff each night at 7 p.m.
The Griffins scored early and late in the opening period to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. Tomas Jurco lasered a wrist shot past Olivier Roy from the high slot at 3:13 off a pass from Mitch Callahan, who would score Grand Rapids’ second goal with just 9.7 seconds showing on the clock. Jeff Hoggan carried the puck from his own zone to the top of the right circle, letting go a shot that Roy turned aside, but Callahan was waiting in the slot to gobble up the rebound and stuff the puck inside the right post for his fourth goal in two games.
Oklahoma City, however, would score twice off turnovers in the first 2:29 of the second period to make it a 2-2 game. Mark Arcobello slammed home Josh Green’s feed from the end boards at the 53-second mark, before Antti Tyrvainen solved Mrazek from the top of the right circle.
The teams alternated goals for the remainder of the period, with the Griffins eventually building a 4-3 advantage through 40 minutes. Adam Almquist connected on a blast from the right point during a power play at 10:51, but the Barons answered on Tanner House’s goal from the left circle at 15:54.
Knuble earned that first point as a Griffin with 2:15 left in the frame, sliding a pass across the goal mouth that Tatar converted into a yawning net.
The Barons (19-16-2-4) forged their third deadlock of the night during a power play 9:43 into the final period, making it 4-4 when Martin Marincin’s shot at the right post trickled over the goal line. The Griffins couldn’t capitalize on their own power play awarded with less than five minutes remaining, beckoning the scoreless overtime and, ultimately, the shootout.
In the skills competition, Chad Billins and Gustav Nyquist scored for the Griffins in rounds two and three – with Nyquist replicating his spin-o-rama goal from Dec. 28 against Toronto – while Mrazek made four straight saves on the other end to improve to 3-1 in shootouts this season. He and Roy each finished the night with 33 saves on 37 shots.
Note: Goalie Tom McCollum was recalled by the Detroit Red Wings immediately after the game.
Three Stars: 1. GR Callahan (goal, assist); 2. GR Tatar (goal, assist); 3. GR Sheahan (two assists)