GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – In a battle of the Central Division’s top two teams on Friday at Van Andel Arena, the Grand Rapids Griffins rode a dominant 35-17 shot advantage to a 3-1 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals, who entered the game with the highest points percentage in the American Hockey League.
Jared Coreau missed earning a shutout in his return from the Detroit Red Wings by less than three minutes, but more importantly, his 16 saves helped the Griffins extend their point streaks to eight games overall (5-0-1-2) and five games at home (3-0-0-2). As a result, the Griffins and Admirals are now tied atop the Western Conference and for third in the AHL in terms of points with 31 apiece.
Grand Rapids, which has played 11 of its last 16 games within friendly confines, will now hit the road for its next four contests, beginning with a 5 p.m. EST clash against the Chicago Wolves on Sunday at Allstate Arena.
The Griffins (14-6-1-2, 0.674) outshot the Admirals (14-4-2-1, 0.738) by a 21-11 count over the first 40 minutes and notched the only goal of that span at the 7:07 mark of the second period. Dominic Turgeon sped down the right side and fed a pass to Dylan Sadowy, who immediately spun at the right post and stuffed the puck past Juuse Saros for his first professional goal.
On the other end of the spectrum, Mitch Callahan logged his 86th goal as a Griffin 2:14 into the third period. A defensive mishap enabled Callahan to burst into the Milwaukee zone with a step on his defender, whom he outmuscled to chip Ben Street’s centering pass over Saros’ right shoulder for a 2-0 Grand Rapids lead.
Harry Zolnierczyk spoiled Coreau’s shutout bid with just 2:52 remaining, finishing off a breakaway with a nice deke to make it a one-goal contest. But after the Admirals pulled Saros in an attempt to score the equalizer, Eric Tangradi slipped a shot into the empty net with 10 seconds left for the final margin.
Saros, who ranked second in the league with a 1.54 goals against average and a 0.946 save percentage as the night began, stopped 32 of 34 but still suffered just his second loss of the season against 10 victories.