Defenseman Zac Leslie tied the game with 31 seconds to play and Oscar Dansk made 30 saves — and stopped all three attempts in the shootout — to boost the Chicago Wolves past the Grand Rapids Griffins 3-2 in the season-series finale on Sunday afternoon at Allstate Arena.
The Wolves trailed 2-0 after the first period, but Wolves forward Teemu Pulkkinen started the rally with his goal at 3:32 of the third. Brandon Pirri delivered the only tally during the three-round shootout to pull the Wolves (37-21-7-2) within three points of Manitoba for first place in the AHL’s Central Division with nine games to play.
“We were opportunistic at the right time in the third,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson. “Every now and again, you get fortunate — and I felt like we got fortunate tonight. But our guys did battle…and I’m pretty proud of our guys for the second half of that hockey game.”
After more than 16 scoreless minutes, the Griffins (36-24-1-7) nabbed the game’s first goal. Exactly as a Wolves penalty expired, Griffins defenseman Robbie Russo took a wrist shot from 40 feet out that found its way behind Dansk (9-1-2) for the 1-0 lead.
Grand Rapids doubled its lead to 2-0 with five seconds to go in the opening period as Turner Elson, leading the rush, took the initial shot that Dansk stopped. However, Dansk gave up a rebound that Brian Lashoff potted as the trailing skater on the play.
Just 3:32 into the third frame, the Wolves cut the Griffins’ lead to 2-1. Pulkkinen breezed into the Grand Rapids zone, zipped between two defenders and threaded a shot between more bodies and behind Matej Machovsky (1-1-1).
Leslie blasted a shot from the center point — the Wolves skating with Dansk on the bench to make it a 6-on-5 advantage — and netted the equalizing tally with 31 seconds left to force overtime.
Machovkey stopped 26 shots in the loss.