GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Griffinshockey.com)
- Proving himself ready to return to the Detroit Red Wings, Chris Osgood made 35 saves in a brilliant performance at Van Andel Arena on Saturday, leading the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 3-1 win in their first-ever game against the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights.
After surrendering a goal on Omaha's first shot, Osgood blanked the Knights over the final 57:38 to earn first star honors and finish his three-game conditioning stint with a 2-1 record. He is expected to fly to Columbus tomorrow and dress for the Red Wings' game against the Blue Jackets on Monday.
Nate DiCasmirro potted his first two goals of the season during the third period to break a 1-1 tie and help the Griffins (5-2-0-0) regain sole possession of first place in the North Division. Grand Rapids, which began a five-game homestand, will enjoy a full week of preparation before hosting their inaugural meeting with the Iowa Stars next Friday, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m.
The teams traded goals before the game was three minutes old. During a Grand Rapids power play, Kent McDonell tallied his first of the season by slamming a loose puck past Curtis McElhinney from the doorstep at 1:20. It took just 62 seconds for the Knights to tie it, as Carsen Germyn's blast from 45 feet slipped through Osgood and trickled across the line. Both teams settled in over the remainder of the frame, with Osgood in particular making several fine saves to keep the game tied.
Midway through the second period, the Griffins missed a golden opportunity when Donald MacLean found himself with the puck low in the right circle staring at an open net, but McElhinney dove across the crease to deny the chance. Grand Rapids received its own bit of good fortune two minutes before the second intermission, when Omaha's Cam Severson snuck behind the defense on a break but clanged a shot off the right post.A wide-open four-on-four situation early in the third provided great scoring chances for each team. Just seconds after Eric Himelfarb was robbed in the Knights' end, Osgood returned the favor with a sprawling, highlight-reel stop on Severson.
DiCasmirro finally put a halt to the goaltending clinic at 2:28, gathering the puck in the slot and roofing a backhand over McElhinney's left shoulder to put Grand Rapids back in the lead at 2-1. He added an unassisted, shorthanded goal with 2:32 remaining for the final margin.
McDonell and Jiri Hudler
joined forces on the Griffins' first goal to extend their point streaks to seven games, as Grand Rapids converted one of its three power play chances. McElhinney deserved a better fate, finishing with 25 saves while watching his teammates go 0-for-9 with the advantage. The Knights fell to 2-3-0-2 with the loss.