GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Chris Chelios helped the Grand Rapids Griffins draw over 9,000 fans to Van Andel Arena Friday night, but couldn't help the Griffins in the win column in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Toronto Marlies.
Just four seconds after an overtime penalty to Chris Chelios had expired, Jeremy Williams lifted a shot over Daniel Larsson's glove from the high slot at 1:43 to give the visitors the victory. Still, the Griffins climbed into sole possession of second place in the North Division while extending their overall point streak to six games (4-0-1-1) and their home point streak to eight games (5-0-1-2).
The Griffins (12-5-3-3) now within four points of first-place Manitoba, will host the Hamilton Bulldogs on Saturday, in what is scheduled to be the final game of Chelios' conditioning stint.
Following a scoreless first period, the Marlies (10-9-0-2) opened the scoring during a power play 2:17 into the second period. From the right of the net, Kris Newbury fed a centring pass to Jiri Tlusty, who redirected the puck past Larsson to snap the netminder's shutout streak at 94:47.
The Griffins pulled even during their own advantage at the 17:26 mark. From the top of the right circle, Garrett Stafford sent a backdoor pass to Darren Helm, whose quick shot found the back of Justin Pogge's wide-open cage. But Toronto again took the lead with just 28.8 seconds left before intermission. During a goal-mouth scramble, Larsson dove backwards to try to cover the puck, but Newbury crashed the crease to score on a second effort.
Chelios, who at 46 years of age became the oldest player in the 73-year history of the AHL, earned an assist midway through the third period to help Grand Rapids knot the score at 2-2. His pass broke the Griffins out of their zone, and after Jamie Tardif took Justin Abdelkader's pass at the blue-line, Tardif blistered a shot from the top of the right circle that bounced off Pogge's arm before trickling over the line at 8:32.
A series of penalties late in regulation resulted in a pair of power-play opportunities for each team, but neither was able to capitalize, sending the contest to overtime.
Larsson submitted another outstanding performance despite the loss, making a season-high 38 saves on 41 shots, while Pogge was forced to stop only 22 shots to claim the win.