01/03/2014 8:38 PM
Chicago Wolves 1 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 3
Jan. 3, 2014
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Tom McCollum made 27 saves and contributed to a strong specialty teams performance as the Grand Rapids Griffins kicked off the 2014 portion of their slate on Friday with a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Wolves at Van Andel Arena.
Making his 11th consecutive start – one shy of his career high – McCollum yielded only a shorthanded goal that came off a turnover early in the third period, and he backstopped a penalty killing unit that denied all four Chicago power plays. Overall, the Griffins have surrendered only one power play goal to the opposition in 25 chances over the last six games.
Grand Rapids (23-8-1-2), which snapped both a two-game losing streak to Chicago and a two-game winless streak overall, will travel to Rockford for an 8 p.m. EST tilt on Saturday before returning to Van Andel Arena next Wednesday to begin a stretch of six home games in 11 nights.
The Griffins’ power play unit, which converted just one of 21 chances over the previous five games, scored two seconds after its only first-period opportunity expired. As Nathan Longpre stepped out of Chicago’s penalty box, Andrej Nestrasil fed a pass into the high slot to Calle Jarnkrok, who sent a one-timer into the top left corner of Matt Climie’s net at 18:43.
Following a scoreless middle frame, Chicago tallied its shorthanded goal 3:29 into the third. A forechecking Sergey Andronov stole the puck behind the Griffins’ net and quickly centered a feed to David Shields, who calmly lifted a backhand over McCollum’s glove from the doorstep.
The deadlock lasted only 77 seconds, though, as the Griffins capitalized on a similar play during that same man-advantage to go back on top at 2-1. After Climie went behind his net to corral the puck, Riley Sheahan forced a turnover and got the puck to Tomas Jurco, who went top shelf with a backhand for his 12th goal of the campaign. Grand Rapids would officially finish the night 1-for-3 on the power play.
With just under 11 minutes left in the game, Jarnkrok took a high, hard hit from Dmitrij Jaskin in front of the Chicago bench, and the Wolves winger followed up with several swipes at Jarnkrok’s head before escaping to his bench. Mitch Callahan skated over to express his displeasure and tangled with Jaskin and several Chicago players before order was restored.
The Wolves (17-13-1-2) emerged from the dustup with a two-minute power play that the Griffins killed off, before a subsequent interference call on Triston Grant gave Chicago another advantage with less than eight minutes left. But again Grand Rapids yielded nothing to the visitors, and Teemu Pulkkinen eventually scored into an empty net with 1:30 remaining for the final margin.
With the victory, the Griffins increased their lead atop the Midwest Division to 11 points over Milwaukee and 12 over the Wolves, who have now split six meetings with Grand Rapids this season.
Climie finished with 26 saves for Chicago.
Three Stars: 1. GR McCollum (W, 27 saves); 2. GR Jurco (power play goal); 3. CHI Shields (shorthanded goal)
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