ROSEMONT, Ill. – Rookie forward Samuel Blais netted two goals for the Chicago Wolves, but center Ben Street scored the game-winning goal at 3:49 of the extra session to power the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 3-2 victory on Saturday night at Allstate Arena.
The Griffins (40-17-1-4) built a two-goal lead in the first half of the game before Blais tallied twice to pull the Wolves (37-17-7-3) even and force the game to overtime. However, Street was the overtime hero for the Griffins to give them their second extra-time victory against the Wolves in as many nights.
“Playoff hockey, in my opinion,” said Wolves head coach Craig Berube. “Two good teams going at it. We just ended up on the short end of both games. I thought both games we had our chances in overtime and couldn’t capitalize.”
Grand Rapids opened scoring just 1:43 into the contest when Dylan McIlrath put a shot on net from the right point. Tyler Bertuzzi corralled the rebound and snapped a shot that got behind Ville Husso (8-5-1) and trickled over the goal line for the 1-0 lead.
Grand Rapids’ power play continued its series-long success and pushed the club’s lead to 2-0 at 5:30 of the second period. Left wing Eric Tangradi lasered a shot from the right point that found its way through traffic and past Husso.
Following a too-many-men penalty to the Griffins at 10:37, Blais seized a turnover in front of the Griffins net and chipped the puck past Jared Coreau (14-7-2) just 21 seconds later to cut Grand Rapids’ lead to 2-1. The tally was Blais’ 20th of the season and marked the first time since the 2013-14 season – when Ty Rattie netted 31 goals – that a Wolves rookie hit the benchmark.
In the third period at 13:37, on the rush from the left wing, Jordan Caron fed Blais, rushing alone into the slot, for his second goal of the night to tie the game 2-2.
Both teams had chances in the extra session, and the Wolves’ best chances came from individual efforts by Kenny Agostino and Wade Megan. At 3:49 of the extra frame, Street pinched up the left-side boards past the Wolves defenders and snaked a shot past Husso for the 3-2 victory.
Coreau made 37 saves in the victory while Husso turned aside 28 shots in his first overtime loss of the season.
The Wolves continue their quest for the Central Division crown on Tuesday, March 21, against the reigning Calder Cup champion Cleveland Monsters at Quicken Loans Arena. Game time is 6 p.m., and will stream on AHLLive.com. For more information about upcoming Wolves home games or the 2017 Calder Cup Playoff race, visit ChicagoWolves.com.