ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Grand Rapids Griffins skated to their sixth straight road victory on Friday night at Allstate Arena, earning a convincing 3-0 win over the Chicago Wolves as Tom McCollum recorded a shutout on his 23rd birthday.
Grand Rapids (12-7-1-1) improved to 8-2 on the road this season and now sit one game away from tying the longest road winning streak in franchise history at seven games (Oct. 16-Dec. 3, 2004). The team has just one more road game this month (Dec. 16 at Toronto), as it plays nine of its next 10 at Van Andel Arena.
The Griffins controlled the first 20 minutes of play, but goaltender Matt Climie helped Chicago (9-9-2-1) get out of the first period in a scoreless tie. Joakim Andersson appeared to open the scoring late in the frame, kicking a puck towards the goal that directed in off a Wolves' defender. Referee Shaun Davis immediately waved the goal off and confirmed his call through video review.
Defenseman Adam Almquist put the Griffins on the board exactly one minute into the second period. Just 10 seconds into the club's second power play of the night, Nathan Paetsch fed Almquist at the top of the circle, who one-timed his third goal of the season past Climie after it deflected off a Chicago defenseman in front.
Despite a 26-9 shot advantage through the first two frames, the Griffins were still up 1-0 entering the third period. Andersson did his part to change that, doubling the Griffins' lead at 4:20. The Griffins center out-muscled Wolves defenseman Yann Sauve for the puck and found Landon Ferraro in the slot. Climie kicked away a quick shot from Ferraro, but Andersson jumped on the rebound to give Grand Rapids a 2-0 advantage.
The forward duo of Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar struck at 6:10 of the third period. Tatar feathered a pass to Nyquist and drove hard to the goal, lifting a return feed from Nyquist over Climie to put the Griffins up 3-0. The goal was Tatar’s 75th as a Griffin, which ties Kip Miller for fourth-most in franchise history.
McCollum sealed the victory, earning his second AHL shutout after making more saves in the third period (11) than the first two periods combined (9). The fourth-year pro took first star honors, while Climie earned second star behind a busy 34 saves.
Grand Rapids still trails Rockford by one point in the Midwest Division standings, and it will have a chance to overtake the IceHogs when the teams go head-to-head at 4 p.m. on Sunday at Van Andel Arena.
GAME NOTES: Francis Pare tied former teammate Jamie Tardif with his 316th game in a Griffins uniform, which ranks third all time.
THREE STARS: 1. GR McCollum (W, SO, 20 saves); 2. CHI Climie (34 saves); 3. GR Andersson (goal)