The Chicago Wolves kicked off a three-game road trip in style when they rallied to top the Grand Rapids Griffins 4-3 on Wednesday night in Michigan.
Vasily Ponomarev scored twice, Josh Melnick had a goal and an assist and Jack Drury also found the back of the net to lead the Wolves to their eighth win in their last 11 games.
Anttoni Honka and Jamieson Rees each added two assists as Chicago came back to win the key Central Division showdown and move within four points of the Iowa Wild for fifth place and the final postseason spot in the Central. The triumph also marked the Wolves’ fifth in a row on the road.
Grand Rapids started strong in the opening period and took a 2-0 lead on goals by Chase Pearson and Matt Luff before the Wolves turned the game around in the second with an offensive explosion.
With the defending Calder Cup champions on the power play, Ponomarev wired a wrist shot from the top of the left circle that sailed past Grand Rapids goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic to the glove side. Anttoni Honka and Melnick were awarded assists on the play.
A short time later, the Wolves tied it when Melnick took a cross-ice pass from Jamieson Rees, maneuvered toward the Griffins net, deked Nedeljkovic to the ice and tucked the puck into the gaping net. Rees and Cavan Fitzgerald recorded assists on Melnick’s 12th goal of the season.
The Wolves took their first lead of the game on a pretty tic-tac-toe passing play that resulted in Drury’s ninth goal of the season. Drury won a faceoff in the Griffins zone to Honka, who then fed Max Lajoie and the Wolves captain hit Drury with a pass as the center cruised through the slot and redirected the puck by Nedeljkovic. Lajoie, who was named the AHL’s Player of the Month for February earlier Wednesday, and Honka picked up assists.
Midway through the third, the Wolves reeled off their fourth consecutive tally when Ponomarev finished another nifty passing play for his team-leading 16th goal of the season. Malte Stromwall dropped a pass to Rees who then found Ponomarev and the Russian rocketed a one-timer past Nedeljkovic for a 4-2 Chicago lead.
Grand Rapids pulled Nedeljkovic and the Griffins cashed in with the man advantage when Joel L’Esperance scored late in the third for the final margin.
Pyotr Kochetkov made 20 saves to earn the win in goal for the Wolves while Nedeljkovic (25 saves) suffered the loss for the Griffins.
The Wolves improved 23-24-3-2 on the season while Grand Rapids dropped to 22-25-3-2.
Up next: The Wolves travel to Manitoba to face the Moose on Friday (7 p.m.; AHLTV).
For information on Wolves ticket plans for the 2022-23 season — everything from single-game tickets to Flex Packs to group outings — visit ChicagoWolves.com or call 1-800-THE-WOLVES.