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Griffins Stave Off Wolves to Retain Top Spot in Central Division

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Tomas Nosek scored with nine seconds on the clock to force overtime, and then Evgeny Svechnikov recorded the game-winning tally 1:51 into the extra session to lift the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 5-4 win over the Chicago Wolves on Friday night at Van Andel Arena.

Though equal in points (83), the Wolves remain second in the Central Division behind the Griffins heading into Saturday night’s rematch at Allstate Arena.

Linemates Kenny Agostino and Wade Megan led the Wolves (37-17-6-3) with two assists each while Kevin Tansey and Ty Rattie each notched their first goals of the season. Center Brad Malone knotted the game 3-3 for the Wolves at 10:43 of the third period, then defenseman Petteri Lindbohm netted Chicago’s go-ahead marker with 1:51 left in regulation.

Grand Rapids (39-17-1-4) struck just 59 seconds into the first frame when Chicago couldn’t enter the offensive zone. Joe Hicketts broke up a dump-in attempt and sent the puck to Matt Ford streaking up the left wing. He sent a short pass to Eric Tangradi near the Wolves net mouth, and Tangradi punched a pass back to Hicketts rushing into the slot for the opening goal.

Just over four minutes later, Ford scored a goal of his own to push the Griffins’ lead to 2-0. On the power play, he chipped away at the puck while standing on Jordan Binnington’s doorstep and eventually flipped it over Binnington’s leg pad.

After Dylan McIlrath took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, Chicago cut Grand Rapids’ lead in half. Malone fed Rattie a cross-ice pass in the neutral zone. Rattie carried across the offensive blue line, and wired a shot past Jared Coreau (13-7-2) right under the crossbar at 14:06 for the power-play tally.

The Wolves carried their late first-period momentum into the middle frame, and tied the game 2-2 at 7:21. Agostino put on a passing clinic that ended with a saucer pass out of the right offensive corner, through the slot, to Tansey racing in from the point.

After nearly 20 minutes of back-and-forth action, the Griffins broke the 2-2 deadlock at 8:02 of the third period. Martin Frk took a shot in a one-on-one situation against a Wolves defenseman, and the puck found the back of the net for the 3-2 go-ahead goal.

However, Chicago came right back just 2:41 later when the Jordan CaronTy Loney-Malone line pressured in front of the Griffins’ net. Loney attempted a wraparound shot and Malone, standing at the top the crease, finally backhanded the puck past Coreau while falling to the ice.

In his first game back after missing seven contests due to injury, Lindbohm gave the Wolves their first lead of the game at 18:09 of the third period. Megan slowed up in the slot, faked a shot and passed to Lindbohm lurking near the left side of the net. Lindbohm slipped a one-time shot past Coreau on the short side for the 4-3 lead.

Shortly after, Grand Rapids pulled Coreau for a sixth skater and, with nine seconds on the clock, Nosek knocked a loose puck behind Binnington (14-6-6) to send the game to overtime.

In the extra frame, Chicago had two good chances but couldn’t find the back of the net. Svechnikov wrangled a Wolves defensive-zone turnover, used Reid McNeill as a screen and zipped a shot past Binnington for the 5-4 final score.

Coreau made 25 saves for his 13th victory of the season while Binnington stopped 33 shots in the loss. Binnington remains unbeaten in regulation through his last seven starts.

The Wolves and Griffins face off in the 10th and final game of their regular-season series on Saturday (March 18) at Allstate Arena. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on CW50 in Chicago. For ticket information or updates on the 2017 Calder Cup Playoff race, visit ChicagoWolves.com.