ROSEMONT, Ill. — The Grand Rapids Griffins outshot the Chicago Wolves 35-9 in the final two periods but it still wasn’t enough to overcome a five-goal deficit, and the Griffins eventually fell 6-2 on Sunday at Allstate Arena.
It was the tenth and final regular season meeting between the Midwest Division opponents, with each team winning five games apiece. The Griffins fell to 41-19-2-4 with the loss, but are still six points ahead of the second-place Wolves (37-19-5-4) in the division.
With a win Sunday, Grand Rapids would have joined the Texas Stars in clinching a playoff berth.
An uncharacteristic 20 minutes of play by the Griffins put them at a 4-0 deficit heading into the second period. It was the most goals Grand Rapids allowed an opponent in a single period all season.
Adam Cracknell scored the Wolves’ first goal 4:19 into the game after he tipped in a redirected shot from Doug Janik at the blue line. While Andrej Nestrasil sat in the box for tripping, a passing play found Michael Davies deep in the Griffins’ zone. He weaved his way into Petr Mrazek’s crease and stick-handled around Mrazek for the tally at 6:49.
Ty Rattie made it 3-0 at 11:55 when when he rushed the net from the neutral zone and backhanded the puck into an open net while Mrazek got tied up.
After Rattie’s tally, Mrazek was pulled from net for the second time in his 92 games as a Griffin, and for the first time in the middle of a period. He finished with five saves before Tom McCollum took his place and finished with 11 saves.
However, Rattie took little time to solve McCollum as well when he scored his second goal of the game at 18:05. Alexandre Bolduc fed a pass from behind the goal line to the stick of Rattie, who one-timed it from the top of the crease.
The Wolves went up 5-0 at 4:15 of the second period when Pat Cannone let a shot rip into the upper left corner of the net.
Teemu Pulkkinen put Grand Rapids on the board when he skated into the Wolves’ zone and slammed a slapshot past Jake Allen at 7:03, a power play marker. He and Rattie are tied for first among rookie goal scorers with 27 goals each.
With about seven minutes remaining in the period, Nestrasil flicked a backhander that hit off Adam Almquist’s leg before finding the back of the net, but the referee immediately ruled it was kicked into the net and not a valid goal. About a minute later, a quick whistle on a loose puck stopped Pulkkinen from scoring his second.
Mitch Callahan scored a power play goal and tallied his seventh point in five games when he redirected a faked shot by Almquist from the left point at 14:57.
The only goal of the third period came at the hands of Cody Beach as he walked in and skated across the crease, sliding the puck past McCollum’s left side for Chicago’s sixth and final marker. Allen turned away all 16 shots by the Griffins in the final period, and finished with 41 total saves.
Callahan nearly had another goal when he tipped in a shot in the final minutes of the game, but it was waved off.
The Griffins will close out a season-high seven-game road trip with a game against the Rockford IceHogs at 8 p.m. EDT on Friday before returning home for a rematch with the IceHogs at 7 p.m. EDT on Saturday.
Three Stars: 1. CHI Allen (win, 41 saves); 2. CHI Rattie (two goals, game-winning goal); 3. CHI Janik (two assists)