The Malik Report
by George Malik on 11/16/13 at 03:30 AM ET
While the Detroit Red Wings continue to struggle, their developmental affiliates and top prospects continue to roll along.
In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins took a 5-3 decision over the Rockford IceHogs, and Tomas Jurco posited his first professional hat trick, Gustav Nyquist registered 3 assists and points 18, 19 and 20 over the course of only 14 games played, Calle Jarnkrok had 2 assists, Teemu Pulkkinen had a goal and an assist and the Griffins have won eight of nine, as the Griffins website's recap notes:
Tomas Jurco registered his first professional hat trick off three assists from Gustav Nyquist as the Grand Rapids Griffins rolled to a 5-3 decision over the Rockford IceHogs on Friday, marking their third straight win at Van Andel Arena and their eighth victory in their last nine outings overall.
Coupled with Milwaukee’s 4-3 loss to Chicago tonight, the first-place Griffins (10-3-1-1) have opened up a five-point lead over both the Admirals and IceHogs (8-8-1-0) in the Midwest Division race. Grand Rapids will face those same Wolves on Saturday in an 8 p.m. EST start at Allstate Arena.
The Griffins’ AHL-leading offense opened the scoring just 2:22 into the contest. On a rush into the Rockford zone, deft passing by Calle Jarnkrok and Nyquist culminated with Jurco popping the puck past Kent Simpson from close range, but the IceHogs answered at 9:42 when Jeremy Morin slammed home his own rebound from the right circle.
Three minutes after Rockford’s goal, Grand Rapids was afforded a great chance to jump back ahead after two consecutive IceHogs penalties resulted in 1:59 of 5-on-3 power play time. Despite several scoring chances, the Griffins were unable to capitalize on the opportunity.
However, the home team did cash in on a one-man advantage late in the second period to take a 2-1 lead into the final 20 minutes. From above the left circle, Teemu Pulkkinen teed up a lethal slap shot that blistered the top of Simpson’s net at the 16:46 mark.
Jeff Hoggan padded the cushion 7:47 into the third, finding the rebound of Brennan Evans’ shot in the slot and quickly chopping a backhand into the top left corner. When Jurco finished off a beautiful tic-tac-toe play by redirecting a long Nyquist pass into the back door at 10:02, the power play marker gave the Griffins a comfortable 4-1 lead. But the IceHogs responded just 18 seconds later to again pull within two, as Alex Broadhurst slapped a rebound past Petr Mrazek.
The exact timing sequence repeated itself minutes later. Jurco finished off his hat trick by scoring on a seemingly impossible angle from the left corner at 15:59 to make it 5-2, and Phillip Danault potted a rebound at 16:17 to make things interesting down the stretch.
Mrazek earned his third straight win behind 26 saves, while Simpson – who was relieved by Antti Raanta for an uneventful 35 seconds late in the game – stopped 28 of 33 in the loss.
Notes: Jordin Tootoo made his Griffins debut and played his first AHL game since the 2006 Calder Cup Playoffs. His assignment by the Red Wings on Thursday, coupled with the AHL’s veteran rule, resulted in Triston Grant being among the night’s healthy scratches…Patrick Eaves, assigned to Grand Rapids earlier today, is expected to arrive in town on Sunday night and have his first practice with team on Monday.
Three Stars: 1. GR Jurco (hat trick); 2. GR Nyquist (three assists); 3. GR Pulkkinen (power play goal, assist)
The Griffins also posted a Flickr photo gallery and an auto-play clip of highlights and post-game comments, and the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner spoke to Jurco and his teammates after the game...
Jurco, who now has a team-high eight goals, opened the scoring in the first and added two in the third. He was assisted twice by Gustav Nyquist. It ended a four-game drought without a goal for Jurco, a streak with just two assists.
"It's a great feeling to have something like that," said Jurco of his first hat trick since juniors. "That last one was kind of a lucky bounce (off the goalie's skate) and made me laugh a little bit, but at the same time I was really happy, too."
The evolving roster in Detroit has had a greater than usual impact on Grand Rapids where, for example, Glendening is back for a third time and Ouellet his second. The Griffins also have Patrick Eaves arriving on Monday after he cleared waivers Friday. While the moves have become commonplace for some, it was a new venue for Tootoo. The veteran of 10 NHL seasons, who joined the Griffins on Thursday after he was earlier waived by Detroit, hadn’t played an AHL game since 2006.
He was scoreless playing on a line with Mitch Callahan and Andrej Nestrasil. He had a shot on goal on his second shift and briefly exchanged words with the Rockford bench late in the second period.
"I felt pretty good, said Tootoo, who played his first game since Nov. 4, when he had 5:38 of ice time against Winnipeg, and just his second since Oct. 26. "New teammates, similar system, but It's going to take a few games to readjust and get back to it."
"I liked Jurco's jump tonight," coach Jeff Blashill said. "I liked his effort and attention to detail. Sometimes the puck goes in and sometimes it doesn't, but when he plays like he did tonight, he's going to get lots of chances to score."
As did Michigan Hockey's Pat Evans:
“I haven’t played great great lately … you never know before the game,” Jurco said. “The first one was a great feeling. The last goal was a lucky bounce and made me laugh a little.”
The Griffins let their guard down and allowed the IceHogs to score again 18 seconds later, as Nordstrom shot the puck past Mrazek.
“I don’t like giving up those goals,” Blashill said. “They’re a team that pushes hard. We gotta get better at this; we gotta make sure we don’t give the other team any life.”
Mrazek made 30 saves on 33 shots.
Notes: Jordin Tootoo made his Grand Rapids Griffins debut, and was -1 with one shot on goal. Tootoo was placed on waivers by the Red Wings earlier this week, and was assigned to Grand Rapids after no other NHL team claimed him.
In the ECHL, the Toledo Walleye had a more difficult evening, dropping a 5-4 OT decision to the Fort Wayne Komets--and Jared Coreau still hasn't won a professional game despite stopping 37 of 42 shots--but the Wings' members of the Walleye's roster are contributing as best they can. Marek Tvrdon scored a goal assisted by Martin Frk, Trevor Parkes scored a goal and the Walleye rallied to tie the game with 58 seconds left in regulation, as noted by the Walleye's website's recap:
Toledo scored with 58 seconds left to tie Fort Wayne but fell 5-4 in overtime to the Komets Friday night. Toledo has an overall record of 4-5-2-0 and is 2-4-2-0 on the road this season.
The Komets would get the only goal in a very even first period of play. At 7:33 of the first, Chris Auger beat Jared Coreau to the glove side with a wrist shot to give Fort Wayne the lead.
“We worked extremely hard tonight,” said Head Coach Nick Vitucci. “We did a great job battling back all night long, showing great character. It just didn’t go our way in the end.”
The Komets opened up a three goal with back to back goals to start the second period. The game would remain that way until Daniel Koger, playing in his first game since October 24th, backhanded a shot past goaltender Andrey Makarov at 18:23. It was the first goal of the year for Koger. Trevor Parkes would score his team leading 7th goal of the year at 19:07 when fired a wrist shot past the Fort Wayne goaltender.
Toledo would tie the game at 3 when Martin Frk fed a pass to Marek Tvrdon who blasted a one timer in for his 4th goal of the year at 26 seconds of the third period. The Komets would regain the lead with a power play goal 4:04 of the 3rd. With just 58 seconds left, Kyle Rogers would tap in a rebound for his 2nd goal of the year. Mike Vaskivuo would score the game winner at 1:09 of overtime.
Walleye Notes: Goaltender Jared Coreau made 37 saves on 42 shots in net for Toledo. Coreau has a record of 0-2-2-0 on the season.
In major junior hockey, in the QMJHL, Anthony Mantha just keeps on scoring. Mantha registered a goal and two assists--with his assists coming on the game-tying and game-winning goals--as the Val-d'Or Foreurs took a 5-4 OT decision from Baie-Comeau.
Mantha now has 24 goals, 29 assists and 53 points registered over the course of 22 games played, and he'll be able to strut his stuff representing the QMJHL in a pair of games in the Subway Super Series on the 18th and 20th;
And Phillipe Hudon scored a goal but couldn't manage a shootout marker in the Victoriaville Tigres' 3-2 shootout loss to Blainville-Boisbriand.
In the OHL, Jake Paterson stopped 39 of 44 shots as the Saginaw Spirit dropped a 5-3 decision to the Sarnia Sting;
Tyler Bertuzzi registered 2 assists in the Guelph Storm's wild 9-4 win over the Peterborough Petes;
And Zach Nastasiuk wasn't able to dent the scoresheet in the Owen Sound Attack's 2-1 shootout loss to Kitchener.
In the WHL, Marc McNulty remains sidelined with an "injury," but he didn't miss much as his Prince George Cougars dropped a 5-2 decision to Spokane.
In the oddity that is the BCHL, David Pope also has an "injury," and he sat out the West Kelowna Warriors' 6-3 loss to Penticton.
And in NCAA hockey, Mike McKee didn't register a point in the Western Michigan University Broncos' 5-3 loss to Denver;
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.