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March 8, 2014

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Johan Gustafsson stopped 28 of 29 shots on Saturday to backstop the Iowa Wild to a 3-1 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins in front of the season’s fifth sellout of 10,834 at Van Andel Arena.
The fifth-place Wild carried a six-game losing skid and a 25-point standings deficit into this rematch with the first-place Griffins, whose 4-0 triumph over Iowa on Friday pushed their winning streak to seven games. But Gustafsson was brilliant for the visitors, allowing only a first-period rocket off the stick of Teemu Pulkkinen to elude his grasp.
Tom McCollum was nearly as impressive for Grand Rapids, turning aside 26 of 28 – and having little chance to stop either goal – before the Wild sealed matters with a late empty-netter.   
With the conclusion of this week’s modest three-game home stand, the Griffins (37-18-2-3) will now embark on a season-high seven-game road trip that will begin with a visit to San Antonio on Thursday at 8 p.m. EDT. Grand Rapids will not play on home ice again until three weeks from today, when it will host Rockford on Saturday, March 29.  
The Griffins peppered Gustafsson with seven shots in the first four-plus minutes of the game, but it was the Wild who took a 1-0 lead on their first shot of the night to snap their goal drought at 129:10. Jonathon Blum fired a shot from the right point that Brad Winchester redirected past McCollum at the 4:45 mark. 
Grand Rapids killed off 1:16 of a 5-on-3 Iowa advantage midway through the frame to keep the deficit at one before capitalizing on its own power play with 2:52 left before intermission. Mitch Callahan carried the puck over the Iowa blue line and centered a pass for Pulkkinen, whose cannon from the high slot sailed past Gustafsson to even the score. Pulkkinen’s team-leading 26th goal of the season gave the rookie points in six straight games (7-2—9) and goals in five of the last six outings.
Following a scoreless middle period, Iowa (23-25-6-4) struck again just 32 seconds into the third. With Brennan Evans hurt and down on the ice behind the Griffins’ net, Blum tracked down the puck in the right corner and threw it across the goal mouth to Marc Hagel for a backdoor tally, giving the Wild their second lead of the game at 2-1.
The Griffins’ path to a comeback tilted sharply upward when Pulkkinen was whistled off on a four-minute high-sticking penalty with just 3:59 remaining. Their penalty killers did their job until McCollum was pulled in the final 20 seconds, and Warren Peters connected on a long shot into the empty net with nine seconds remaining for the final margin.
Each team tallied 29 shots for the game and finished 1-for-5 on the power play. 
Notes: The Griffins have now had three winning streaks of exactly seven games this season…Grand Rapids is 5-2 versus the Wild in 2013-14, with a pair of games remaining in Des Moines during its upcoming road trip (March 21 and 22) and one at Van Andel Arena (April 2). 
Three Stars: 1. IA Gustafsson (W, 28 saves); 2. IA Blum (two assists); 3. GR McCollum (L, 26 saves)

Griffins Game Rewind
GriffVision Video Highlights & Interviews
ESPN Radio Highlights: Pulkkinen Goal Hagel Goal
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