HAMILTON, Ontario – A two-goal performance by Gustav Nyquist, including a shootout winner, carried the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 4-3 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs on Saturday at the Copps Coliseum.
The Bulldogs (1-0-0-1) opened up scoring on the Griffins (2-0-1-0) at 10:08 into the first period when Greg Pateryn one-timed the puck from the top of the left circle to net a power-play goal. Hamilton almost tallied another goal near the end of the opening frame when two Bulldogs broke through on a two-man breakaway, but Petr Mrazek stonewalled the skaters and turned the play into a Griffins offensive opportunity.
Grand Rapids got on the board at 9:12 of the middle frame to tie it up. Nyquist obtained the puck between the right circle and goal line and backhanded it into the top shelf from a nearly impossible angle.
However, the tied game was short-lived as the Bulldogs responded only 18 seconds later with a goal of their own. A scramble in front of the Griffins net led to Sven Andrighetto lifting the puck past a sprawled Mrazek.
Following a high-sticking penalty by Andrighetto at 17:49, Grand Rapids needed only 12 seconds on their seventh power play of the night to find the back of the net. Calle Jarnkrok received a pass in the slot from Nyquist and buried it, marking his first goal of the season.
The Griffins picked up their first lead of the night with a power play goal by Jeff Hoggan at 6:01 of the third period. He was to the left of Hamilton netminder Robert Mayer when he found a rebound and squeaked it into the net.
With only 11 seconds remaining in the game and Mayer pulled for an extra skater, Hamilton tied it up. Akim Aliu buried a rebound before Mrazek had a chance to react, forcing the Griffins to their second consecutive overtime.
The five-minute overtime period was scoreless, and the two teams headed to a five-round shootout.
The netminders stood strong during the first two rounds, holding the shooters scoreless. In the third round, Nyquist shot a backhander that beat Mayer glove side, marking the only goal of the shootout and picking up the win for the Griffins.
Mayer stopped 38 of 42 shots and Mrazek stopped 21 of 24 shots in his first game back as a Griffin this season.
The Griffins will take to the ice for their home opener at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18 at Van Andel Arena against the Milwaukee Admirals. Prior to the puck drop, the Griffins will celebrate its 2013 Calder Cup victory with a championship banner-raising ceremony.
Three Stars: 1. GR Nyquist (two goals, one assist); 2. HAM Mayer (38 saves); 3. GR Hoggan (one goal, six shots)