Griffins Cant Hang On as Penguin Take Flight 3-2|
Dominant Performance by Helm goes to waste...
By Jason Kasiorek
Adam Berkhoel got the best of his former team last night, pulling off a 3-2 shootout win over the Griffins. He had a little help along the way from a couple of questionable penalty calls late, but Grand Rapids lacked the killer instinct to put Wilkes-Barre away when they had the chance. Darren Helm turned in a dominant performance scoring two goals and controlling play most of the time he was on the ice, and Daniel Larsson was solid in the loss, making 30 saves.
The Griffins were shorthanded a fair amount during the first, but some of their best scoring chances happened when down a man (or two). Lemieux on the PK with some great individual effort taking the puck in deep, winning a couple of battles along the boards and in the corner and then hitting Gagnon with a centering pass. Gagnon looked surprised to have gotten the puck, and couldn't get off a good shot. A little later in the period, Abdelkader got a shorthanded breakaway from center ice, but harmlessly shot the puck off one of Berkhoel's pads. Finally with just a few seconds left in the first Helm took advantage of a Wilkes-Barre turnover for a shorthanded break, sneaking the puck through Berkhoel's pads five-hole to give GR a 1-0 lead. Shots on Goal: GR 13 - Wilkes-Barre 9.
Emmerton, the last man back, coughed up the puck at his own blueline leading to Penguins 3-on-0 on Larsson, with James scoring the unassisted goal. The Griffins killed their own powerplay for the second time in the game with a bad offensive zone penalty. Helm restored the lead 10 minutes later with a great individual effort. He gained the zone, weaved in and out of a couple of Wilkes-Barre defenders and snapped a bullet past Berkhoel, stick-side. The Griffins had a great chance to go ahead by two just as time ran out, but couldn't convert. Shots on Goal: GR 11 - Wilkes-Barre 9.
The third period was a chippy affair with lost of scrums after the whistle. Downey took advantage of one of these to payback James for an earlier hit on Helm, but did not get a penalty. Abdelkader was particularly feisty and stood his ground several times against larger opponents. Wilkes-Barre tied things up at the 14:31 mark on a 4-on-3 powerplay. Minard in the low slot took a pass and redirected it over Larsson's shoulder. Shots on Goal: GR 11 - Wilkes-Barre 10.
Haydar was called for a phantom trip in the OT but Wilkes-Barre couldn't capitalize. The Griffins got their own powerplay a few minutes later, but really couldn't get much going. Shots on Goal: GR 2 - Wilkes-Barre 4. For the Game: GR 37 - Wilkes-Barre 33.
Pesonen went first for WB, avoiding Larsson's poke check and tucking the puck past him into the net. Oulahen rang it off the post for Grand Rapids. Larsson flashed the pad to stop Taffe While Leino made a great move but Berkhoel stoned him. Letestu was up next for the Penguins and shot it over Larsson and into the net. Darren Helm beat Berkhoel but hit the crossbar. Minard rang a shot off the post and Haydar ripped a shot off Berkhoel to end the shootout.
Ritola - Emmerton - Haydar/Downey
Pare/Lemieux - Abdelkader - Mursak/Haydar
Leino - Helm - Oulahen
Mursak/Gagnon - Lemieux - Downey
Pyett - Ericsson
Galvin - Kindl
Stafford - Kolosov
Abdelkader - Pare - Mursak
Stafford - Kindl
Leino - Helm - Abdelkader/Oulahen/Emmerton
Ericsson - Haydar
Ritola - Abdelkader
Galvin - Ericsson
Leino - Helm
Stafford - Kindl
Oulahen - Gagnon
Grand Rapids played without standout Landon Wilson who was recalled by the Dallas Stars. Wilson is replacing Brendan Morrow who is out for six months, meaning he probably wont be back this season. This is a tremendous blow to the Griffins as Wilson was a large part of the early success enjoyed by this team.
Darren Helm was incredible tonight. If this is the level of play he is capable of every night, when he finds his consistency, he won't be in the AHL long.
Sergei Kolosov had his best night as a pro. He used his size, played physical (he could still pick this up a little), and was very good defensively. He seemed to be playing with more intensity than normal.
Frankie Lemieux looked like he was energized tonight, buzzing around the ice and creating havoc with his speed and determination. I f he wants to be in the lineup on a regular basis, this is the game he has to bring. I only wish he could have been rewarded on the scoresheet for his effort.
Francis Pare did not have a good game, taking a couple of ill-timed penalties, including one that killed a GR powerplay.
Jakub Kindl was very active, an improvement in his game, but his adrenaline boiled over a couple of times, leading to him making poor decisions on the ice. He could stand to dial it down just a notch.
Cory Emmerton created a lot of good offensive chances early in the game, but his defensive gaffes cost him some ice-time and confidence, and he was not as noticeable in the latter stages of the game.