Recap: Griffins flattened by Chicago Wolves’ 5-goal 3rd period rally

The Grand Rapids Griffins experienced a setback on Friday, losing 5-3 to the Chicago Wolves. Jared McIsaac (2) and Kyle Criscuolo scored for Grand Rapids, securing the team a 3-0 lead, but the Wolves scored 5 times(!) during the third period, with 4 going in on the as-to-yet-unassailable Calvin Pickard, to rally.

The Griffins’ website posted a recap:

Chicago Wolves 5 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 3

Nov. 26, 2021

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Chicago Wolves scored five unanswered goals in the third period on Friday, including three in the final 1:36, to take a stunning 5-3 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins at Van Andel Arena.

The Griffins, who entered the night on a 5-1-2-0 roll, are now winless in their last five games against the Wolves dating to last season, with all games having taken place in Grand Rapids.

The result spoiled a strong early showing by the Griffins, who saw Kyle Criscuolo extend his goal streak to three games as part of a three-point night and Jared McIsaac pot his first two goals as a pro.

McIsaac struck first at the 12:19 mark of the opening period. Off Criscuolo’s faceoff win in the right circle, McIsaac picked up the puck along the right boards and maneuvered to the top of the circles before whipping a wrister past a screened Eetu Makiniemi.

That goal sparked a cascade of stuffed animals from the stands for Grand Rapids’ 21st annual Teddy Bear Toss and gave the Griffins their first lead against Chicago not only this season but over a span of 252:50, dating to their 3-1 win at Chicago on May 8, five meetings ago.

Following a five-minute delay to clear the ice of the plush toys, Grand Rapids needed less than a minute more to pad its cushion to 2-0.

Makiniemi denied consecutive tries by Taro Hirose and Criscuolo on an odd-man break, but Criscuolo continued to lurk outside the crease and poked Riley Barber’s feed from the end boards inside the left post at 13:17.

Consecutive Griffins penalties early in the second gave the Wolves a prime opportunity to put a dent in Calvin Pickard, but Grand Rapids’ penalty killers didn’t allow a single shot over the four minutes of Chicago’s advantage.

McIsaac’s second goal of the night with 4:37 remaining in the frame pushed the lead to three, as the defenseman’s sharp-angle backhand from the right corner slipped through Makiniemi while Criscuolo and Jack Drury jockeyed for position at the near post. The Wolves pleaded with the referees for a goaltender interference call to no avail.

Awarded a third power play early in the final period, the Wolves lit the lamp on their 22nd shot of the night, a Josh Leivo one-timer from the left circle at 1:29. Just 57 seconds later, and on their next shot, the visitors cut their deficit to one when Maxim Letunov finished off a 3-on-2 rush by sending a shot over Pickard’s glove from the high slot.

Following a timeout by coach Ben Simon, Grand Rapids stopped the bleeding and nursed its 3-2 margin into the final two minutes. But Spencer Smallman blistered a shot into the net from low in the right circle to tie the contest with 1:36 remaining, before C.J. Smith gave Chicago its first lead 12 seconds later off a fortunate bounce. Stefan Noesen’s feed out of the left corner popped into the air off the arm of Andrew Poturalski and landed at the unguarded backdoor for an easy tap-in by Smith.

Poturalski added an empty-net tally at 19:18, sealing a defeat that dropped the Griffins to 0-3-1-0 against Chicago this season and snapped Grand Rapids’ four-game point streak (2-0-2-0).

The Griffins also posted a photo gallery and a highlight clip:

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.