GRAND RAPIDS -- After a penalty-filled, extra-long Game 3 and playing in back-to-back playoff games, it was only natural that the Grand Rapids Griffins and Chicago Wolves would have a bit of a letdown in Game 4.
Not a lot happened for either team in the first period, which was scoreless.
Although the Griffins took the early 1-0 lead, it was the Wolves who managed to elevate their play a little higher when they needed to, earning a 5-2 victory in Game 4 at Van Andel Arena Wednesday night, forcing Game 5 Sunday in Chicago.
Derek Hulak and Turner Elson scored for the Griffins. Nic Hague (power play), T.J. Tynan (power play), Cody Glass, Tye McGinn (empty net) and Keegan Kolesar (empty net) scored for the Wolves.
Grand Rapids goalie Harri Sateri made 29 saves. Chicago netminder Oscar Dansk also had 29 saves, earning his first win of the series.
Up next is the deciding Game 5 of the series Sunday at 4 p.m. in Chicago (3 p.m. CDT).
1. Special teams: The Griffins came into the game doing a very good job on the power play and penalty kill in the first three games of the series against the Wolves. They scored three goals on nine chances for a 33.3 percent success rate with the man-advantage and had killed off 12-of-14 on the penalty kill for an 85.7-percent success rate. But that luck did not continue in Game 4. The Griffins had a power play midway through the first period but only managed one shot. For the game, the Griffins were 0-for-3. On the other side, after the Griffins had taken a 1-0 lead in the second, the Wolves quickly tied the game when Christoffer Ehn went to the box for delay of game and Hague scored his first of the series, beating Sateri from the right circle. After nothing was called when Griffins defenseman Joe Hicketts was taking some abuse, Hicketts found himself in the box for elbowing. The Wolves took a 2-1 lead on Tynan's power-play goal at 12:46 of the second. The Wolves finished 2-for-4 on the man-advantage.
Quotable: "Everyone talks about special teams winning games in the playoffs and tonight, we lost the special teams battle. It's been a trend of ours, I think, over the course of the year when our PK's on, we're going to have some success. But as soon as we give up one, we seem to find a way to give up two, three, and that's what happened tonight. So regroup. We knew it was going to be a long series, especially the way we were playing coming in. If we said we could push it to five, I think we would have taken it. We just got to keep some energy, some momentum with us and go into Chicago on Sunday and do the job." -- Hicketts
Quotable II: "I think taking penalties didn't help. Again, they've got a good power play. We knew that going into the series. They finished fifth or sixth in the league during the regular season and they've got some good firepower, even with their guys that they're missing. Up until that point, I thought we did a phenomenal job on the kill. Then obviously if you take enough penalties and you play the law of probabilities, they're a 20-percent team so if you take five penalties, odds are you're going to give one up." -- Griffins coach Ben Simon
Quotable III: "It's tough, back-to-back playoff games. It's tough especially after an emotional game, a physical game and a long game that it was last night (Tuesday), guys didn't really have the jump they normally have. Therefore, there weren't as many offensive pushes or offensive chances, so certainly special teams were going to be important in this game. We knew that and they were." -- Wade Megan
2. Derek Hulak/Turner Elson/Filip Hronek: At 7:02 of the second period, Hulak snapped the scoreless tie with a blistering shot from the right circle. It was Hulak's first goal of the series and second point in four games. Dominik Shine and Libor Sulak assisted on the goal. Just 1:05 after the Wolves had taken a 3-1 lead on Glass' goal, the Griffins quickly responded as Turner Elson shot the puck over Dansk's shoulder at 2:08 of the third period. Filip Hronek collected the lone assist. It was Elson's second goal of the series. Hronek's assist was his third of the series.
Quotable: "We weren't good enough on the PK tonight. We gave them a lot of power plays, which we shouldn't have done. It was just one of those tough games. We were in that game, we played well for the most part, we got pucks to the net, we got bodies there, we had chances to tie this game up, it just didn't come for us. We have to go into Sunday with the mentality we're not going to back down from anybody, we're banging bodies, we have to make sure we're getting pucks to the net, just the little things. We've got to make sure we're detailed. Everything has to be perfect. We need every guy on our team because they're going to have every guy going." -- Elson
Quotable II: "I still have to work hard and try and get better every day. Defensively, my game has improved this year. This year helped me. I talked to Blash (Jeff Blashill) about it and he helped me. All the guys with the Wings, Kronner (Niklas Kronwall) and all the guys really. So I really appreciate them talking with me and sharing their experience, because the 'D' on the Wings have so much experience and they try and give it to me. I moved a little bit forward this year." - Hronek
3. Looking ahead to deciding Game 5: The Griffins and Wolves played a feisty Game 3 Tuesday night, which included a combined 144 penalty minutes and almost an hour delay because of ice repairs. The fallout from that game hit the Griffins harder as the AHL suspended forward Givani Smith for one game due to an illegal check to the head, and suspended forward Dominic Turgeon for two games for a boarding incident. Turgeon is one of the Griffins' top penalty killers and face-off men. Smith, an AHL rookie, has provided a physical presence that was missed in Game 4. Smith can play Sunday but Turgeon will have to sit again. However, the Griffins went into Chicago and won Game 1, 5-1, giving them confidence they can beat the top seed ain their building.
Quotable: "The schedule kind of permits to take a day tomorrow to relax. We still get a couple practices in Friday and Saturday, lots of time to put this one behind us. Maybe we sat on last night's win too much but we'll get rid of this one real quick. We won Game 1 in their building and we'll be looking to do the same thing on Sunday. (No) Turgeon hurts the PK a lot. He's really good on face-offs on the penalty kill, he plays probably 50 percent of the penalty kill. It sucks that we lost him. Smitty has really taken his game to the next level. I'd say from Christmastime on, he's been hard on the puck, he's been a good agitator, he's holding onto pucks. We get Smitty back, we'll win this one so Turge can play Game 1 of the second round." -- Chris Terry
Quotable II: "I think it's been something all series. That extra whack, that extra punch to the head, the cross-check to the back, they've been letting it go. You go to protect yourself and maybe I did get it up a little bit high but I don't think it's anything that hasn't been done all series. And when you go from one standard to the next, I think that's what frustrates players. You look at last night, they were letting things go and it did get wild but we knew those 2-3 shots were there to be had. When you go from one extreme to the other, from not calling some major things to maybe little knickknack stuff maybe behind the play, I think emotions get high and it's a playoff series. But at the end of the day, I can't do that, we got to find a way to kill a penalty and help our goalie." -- Hicketts
Quotable III: "I'm very confident with this group that we have here. I'm not arrogant or being condescending but I am more than confident with this group in this room to go into Chicago and win one hockey game." -- Simon