Abel to Yzerman

Abel to Yzerman

The Latest On The Grand Rapids Griffins

04/12/2019 at 11:55pm EDT

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Despite dropping a 4-1 decision to the Manitoba Moose on Friday at Van Andel Arena, the Grand Rapids Griffins still control their own destiny for clinching both a playoff spot and home-ice advantage in the Central Division Semifinals, heading into Saturday’s regular season finale at Milwaukee.

With the Griffins’ magic number stuck on one point over the trio of Iowa, Milwaukee and Manitoba, there are five AHL results this weekend that would each secure Grand Rapids’ seventh consecutive playoff berth: on Saturday, a Griffins win at Milwaukee, a Rockford victory at Iowa, or a Chicago win versus Manitoba; or on Sunday, either a Chicago victory against Manitoba or a Rockford win versus Milwaukee. In addition, one point earned by Grand Rapids in tomorrow’s 7 p.m. EDT road tilt against the Admirals would cement second place in the Central Division for the Griffins along with home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Regardless, this marks just the second time in the Griffins’ 23-year history that their playoff fate will be determined on or after the date of their final regular season game. In 2006-07, Grand Rapids lost its finale 5-1 at Toronto but still qualified for the postseason thanks to Peoria’s 4-0 loss to Milwaukee that day.

Pat Nagle made his first appearance in net for the Griffins since earning a 5-1 win over Utica on Jan. 23, 2015, while eight different players recorded at least one point for the Griffins, with Axel Holmstrom and Colin Campbell each recording a goal and an assist. But the Barracuda’s late push, backed by two third-period goals, forced the extra frame where Radil's goal allowed San Jose to sweep the weekend and end the season series with a 3-1-0-0 record.

Grand Rapids (38-25-6-4) takes one point from the matchup and now sits five back of Chicago, who have a chance to extend their lead later tonight in a matchup with Colorado. The Griffins will host the Iowa Wild on Wednesday at Van Andel Arena at 7 p.m.

Fresh off a reassignment from the Sharks this week, Dylan Gambrell kicked off an eventual two-point night against the Griffins midway through the first period to open scoring. Soon after Ivan Chekhovich sent him a centering pass from the left wing, Gambrell popped the puck over Nagle’s left shoulder for the first goal of the game at 10:56.

Up until the 18:04 mark of the first period, the Barracuda had seen dominant success while on the penalty kill with a perfect 24-for-24 record through the past six games. The Griffins found a way to break that streak late in the first period, though, recording two back-to-back goals while on the power play to rob San Jose of its lead.

With five seconds left on a Grand Rapids power play featuring a 5-on-3 advantage, Holmstrom found his 12th goal of the year. A pass from Campbell behind Antoine Bibeau’s net left Holmstrom with the puck on the doorstep, and he lifted it over the goaltender’s right shoulder to tie the game at 18:04.

Chris Terry extended the success at 5:38 of the second period to give the Griffins the lead. Soon after Wade Megan won a faceoff in the Barracuda's zone, Carter Camper wound up with the puck near the left wing and slid it across the ice to Terry. From the right circle, Terry buried the puck to make it 2-1.

Less than two minutes later, Campbell added some cushion to Grand Rapids’ lead with the team’s fourth shorthanded goal of the season. The chance was ignited when Chase Pearson poked the puck out of San Jose’s possession and Campbell snagged it for a breakaway.

Trailed by three Barracuda, Campbell fired a shot toward Bibeau from in close that rang off the crossbar and fluttered into the air. It landed in front of the goaltender, but when a San Jose defenseman attempted to scoop it up, the puck was instead propelled between Bibeau’s legs for the Griffins' two-goal lead.

The Barracuda responded with two back-to-back goals to rebuild their tie with Grand Rapids. At 13:50 of the same frame, Kyle Wood ripped off a shot from the left point that Jayden Halbgewachs cleaned off the doorstep, making it 3-2. Just 1:10 into the final period, the Griffins' lead was completely exhausted when Gambrell snagged his second point of the night after setting up T.J. Hensick on the doorstep.

Another four minutes would show Grand Rapids regaining the lead, with Givani Smith setting up Libor Sulak for a one-timer from the slot at 5:17. But just three minutes later, San Jose closed the gap for good when a centering pass from Halbgewachs allowed Vladislav Kotkov to net his first goal with the Barracuda at 8:07 of the third period.

The 4-4 stalemate was maintained through the remainder of the frame, pushing both teams to an overtime period. At 2:29 of the extra frame, Antti Suomela picked off a pass between Sulak and Filip Zadina, skated it up the left wing and lobbed it over to the right circle, where Radil buried it for the win.

In his first AHL appearance since April 3, 2015, Nagle stopped 20 shots. Bibeau recorded the win after turning away 25 shots on the night.

Notes: The Griffins’ lineup was missing 10 players due to recall to Detroit (Jake Chelios, Christoffer Ehn, Martin Frk, Joe Hicketts, Filip Hronek, Dylan McIlrath, Matt Puempel and Dominic Turgeon) or injury (Matthew Ford and Harri Sateri)...All three of the Griffins’ previous shorthanded goals have been scored by Turner Elson.

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