HOUSTON – The Grand Rapids Griffins ended their second three-in-three of the season with a 2-1 shootout win over the Houston Aeros Sunday at the Toyota Center.
Houston entered the night with the second-best power play in the league, but Grand Rapids shut down all five of the Aeros’ power play chances. The Griffins’ penalty killing was a perfect 14-for-14 this weekend.
In his second AHL start, Petr Mrazek picked up right where he left off Saturday night, tallying 12 saves in the opening period before the Griffins recorded their first shot. Mrazek kept the Aeros off the scoreboard three minutes into the game when he stretched out his left leg to block Charlie Coyle’s shot from point-blank range. The Griffins stifled three Houston power plays in the first period to keep the game scoreless.
Landon Ferraro opened up the scoring in the second period, ripping a slapshot past Matt Hackett at 6:07. Adam Almquist found Ferraro from the left corner and Ferraro angled from left to right, nailing a top shelf shot from 40 feet away. The assist was Almquist’s fourth point (2-2—4) in three games this weekend.
Riley Sheahan kept the Aeros from scoring the equalizer six minutes into the third period. Chad Rau took a shot from the left side of the net and the puck bounced behind Mrazek dangerously close to the goal line. Sheahan slid behind Mrazek quickly to block the open net and maintain the Griffins’ one-goal lead.
But Rau didn’t go quietly, returning later in the period to tie the score at 9:40 of the third. Carson McMillan fed Rau behind the net, and Rau walked in front for the close shot. Snapping the puck low, Rau sent it just inside the left goalpost past Mrazek.
Hackett robbed Gustav Nyquist of a game-winning goal at 1:23 of the third period. Coming down the slot, Nyquist went right to left, quickly snapping a shot that Hackett handled with a great glove save to send the game into overtime.
The Griffins held off the Aeros power play for the fifth time of the night, battling 4-on-3 for the final 1:40 in overtime to send the game into a shootout. Brendan Smith and Francis Pare scored in the shootout and Mrazek was perfect on four opportunities in the shootout to give the Griffins a 2-1 victory.
Hackett tallied 31 saves while Mrazek earned his second consecutive AHL victory with 30 saves.
The Griffins improve to 4-4-1-1 through 10 games while the Aeros fall to 5-4-1-0.
The Griffins return to Grand Rapids for their next contest, hosting the Milwaukee Admirals Wednesday at 11 a.m.
THREE STARS: 1. GR Smith (shootout goal); 2. HOU Hackett (31 saves); 3. HOU Rau (goal)