ROSEMONT, Ill. – A patient move by Tomas Tatar helped the Grand Rapids Griffins finish their first three-in-three of the season on a high note and defeat the Chicago Wolves 3-2 in overtime on Sunday at Allstate Arena.
Tatar extended his own point streak to a team-high four games with an assist in addition to his game-winning tally. It was the Griffins' second overtime game in as many days and fourth through their first seven games of the season.
After a strong save by Tom McCollum early in overtime, the Wolves were penalized for interfering with the Griffins goaltender. Forty-four seconds into the power play, Tatar showed great patience in front of the net, making several moves before netting the game-winning goal at 1:58.
Nathan Paetsch opened the scoring at 5:24 of the opening frame with his first goal as a Griffin. Paetsch followed up an odd-man advantage late and took a pass from Tatar before tucking the puck inside the left post, to give the Griffins a 1-0 lead. It was the first time Chicago trailed on home ice through their first five games at Allstate Arena.
Andrew Gordon evened the game up at one at 9:29 of the second period. Brett Sterling made a strong defensive play, sending the puck into Grand Rapids’ zone after blindly reaching and connecting with a pass that was behind him. Michael Davies chased the puck down to create a 2-on-1 advantage, and set up Gordon on the right side of the net for the tying score.
Jeff Hoggan put the Griffins back on top in the second period off of a rebound from his own shot. Landon Ferraro split the Wolves defenders with a pass to Hoggan coming up the left side, who showed a burst of speed at the blue line to move into scoring position. Hoggan’s first shot hit the post, but he stayed with the play and scored off of his own rebound, giving the Griffins a 2-1 lead at 16:17 of the second period.
The Wolves entered the third period trailing their opponent for the first time this season, but Kevin Connauton scored his team’s second power play goal of the year to tie the game at 2-2. Taking a pass from Alex Friesen, Connauton’s shot was wide left of the net, but the puck deflected off of the backboard and McCollum’s right leg for the tying score at 10:18 of the third period.
McCollum kept the score tied after a spectacular diving stop on the Wolves’ fourth power play of the game. Grand Rapids entered its second overtime game in two nights after both teams failed to break the 3-3 tie before Chad Billins, who is riding a four-game scoring streak of his own, found Tatar in front of the net to end the game in overtime.
The Griffins improve to 2-3-1-1 while the Wolves drop to 5-2-1-0 after losing their first home game of the season. Lack recorded 34 saves while McCollum earned the win behind 29 saves.
The Griffins will play their next three games on the road, traveling to San Antonio to play the Rampage Friday at 8:30 p.m. EDT.
THREE STARS: 1. GR Tatar (OT goal, assist); 2. CHI Sterling (two assists); 3. GR McCollum (W, 29 saves)