GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins netted three goals in the first period en route to a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Wolves on Saturday night at Van Andel Arena. The win gave Grand Rapids a 2-1 lead in the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs Central Division Finals.
Following three Grand Rapids first-period goals, Chicago (4-4) climbed back within a goal with two goals early in the third period in a two-minute, 12-second span. Chris Butler and Mackenzie MacEachern each scored for the Wolves. The Griffins added their final tally of the contest at 6:38 of the third session.
“We were not ready for how intense it was going to be right away,” said Wolves head coach Craig Berube. “You’ve got to be ready for that. I thought our team battled back and recovered and made it a tight game. I thought we had all the momentum.”
Grand Rapids (5-1) struck first on the man advantage – with MacEachern in the box for slashing – when Matthew Ford banged in the puck at 5:09 as the Griffins offense collapsed on the Wolves net.
At the midway point of the frame, the Wolves were pressuring but Grand Rapids caught a 2-on-1 break the opposite direction. Mitch Callahan fed a cross-slot pass for an easy shot from Ben Street that found twine.
Thirty seconds later, Ville Husso (4-4) left his crease to challenge Dylan McIlrath but Tyler Bertuzzi corralled the puck and shot it in for the Griffs’ third goal.
For the first time during the 2017 postseason, goaltender Jordan Binnington entered game action to replace Husso (4-4), who gave up three goals on nine shots and earned the loss. Binnington stopped seven of seven shots through the remaining 9:16 of the period.
After a scoreless second session, Chicago got on the board at 4:10 of the third period when Butler ripped a shot from the right point through traffic to make it a 3-1 game.
The Wolves climbed within a goal at 6:22 as Bryce Gervais led a 2-on-1 rush and slid a cross-slot pass to MacEachern for an easy goal.
Grand Rapids quickly regained a two-goal lead just 16 seconds later when defenseman Joe Hicketts jumped up on the play and put the puck past Binnington to make it 4-2.
Binnington finished the contest with 30 saves while Coreau stopped 27 shots.
The pucks drops at 6 p.m. on Monday, May 8, for Game 4 of the Central Division Finals between the Griffins and Wolves at Van Andel Arena.
The series returns to Allstate Arena on Saturday, May 13, for Game 5 of the best-of-seven series. For tickets or updates on Calder Cup competition, visit ChicagoWolves.com.