GRAND RAPIDS,, MICH. - The Grand Rapids Griffins were sailing through the playoffs until they hit a brick wall in Chicago Friday night.
The Chicago Wolves snapped the Griffins' seven-game winning streak with a 7-3 beatdown, which evened the series 1-1 heading back to Grand Rapids.
The Griffins jumped out to a 3-0 lead and held on for a 4-2 victory at Van Andel Arena Saturday night, taking a 2-1 series lead.
1. Tyler Bertuzzi: If it's the playoffs, it must be time for Bertuzzi to do his thing. After Matthew Ford scored on the power play and Ben Street tallied on a 2-on-1, Bertuzzi found the back of the net during a goalmouth scramble at 10:30 of the first period. The goal extended Bertuzzi's playoff point streak to six games, tying the team's longest since 2006. It marked Bertuzzi's 28th career playoff point, which ties him with Jiri Hudler for third on the Griffins' all-time list. Bertuzzi has 17 career playoff goals, second in franchise history behind Teemu Pulkkinen's 22. It is also Bertuzzi's eighth game-winning goal, which extends his own team record.
Quotable: "Just more simple, when you get the red you're not trying to dangle, you're just getting it deep and you're working and everyone knows that when we all work together like that and when we get pucks on net and go to the net, we're going to get chances." - Bertuzzi
2. Joe Hicketts: While Bertuzzi is a playoff veteran, Hicketts was playing in just his sixth AHL playoff game, having spent the last two years watching as a Black Ace. After the Wolves scored two goals in quick succession in the third period, cutting the lead to 3-2, Hicketts responded with his first career playoff goal from the left half-wall. Hicketts also assisted on Street's goal. Hicketts and his defense partner Dylan McIlrath finished a team-best plus-3. The Wolves did their best to rough up the 5-foot-8, 180-pound defenseman but Hicketts got the last laugh.
Quotable: "I try to have the mentality of just keep going. I think they're going to expect me to kind of back down and that's not the type of person or player I am. Hopefully if I keep up that mentality, they can kind of leave me alone a little bit. I know as a small guy, they're going to keep keying on me and trying to play physical and I just got to find a way to get out of the way quicker sometimes, I think." - Hicketts
3. Filip Hronek: Defenseman Brian Lashoff suffered a lower-body injury Friday night in Chicago so coach Todd Nelson put Hronek into the lineup for the first time this postseason. Hronek, the Red Wings' second second-round pick, 53rd overall, in last summer's draft, played with veteran Nathan Paetsch. Although both finished minus-2, Nelson was not disappointed in the 19-year-old blue liner. Nelson said he expects Lashoff back during this series but not by Monday's game.
Quotable: "He played well. I think everybody saw how poised he is for a young kid with the puck. He makes smart decisions and he plays hard. For not being very big, he plays a pretty physical game, which is good to see. He's not intimidated at all and I thought he's handling himself with a lot of maturity." - Nelson