” We need to compete more. We need to make it feel like a playoff game.”
Those are the words from Wolves head coach Craig Berube told the media after Wednesday night’s 4-1 loss. The Wolves never got their game going in game one, especially their powerplay going 0-5. The Wolves have to play better in game 2 in all areas of the game.
Scooter Vaughan returned to the lineup Friday night after being sidlelined with a knee injury. He is a major part of their penalty kill. The Grand Rapids Griffins powerplay is the best in the league, so to have a healthy unit was huge for Wolves coming into game 2.
James Wisniewski, who has played in 552 NHL games, returned to the lineup after missing game one. A smart move by Berube to put a veteran on the blue line.
The Wolves need to get out to a better start in game 2. It was inevitable that they needed to tie up the series as they head to Grand Rapids for games 3 and 4. Vince Dunn talked about getting back to the fundamentals and just sticking to their game and “we’ll be fine.”
And after the first period, everyone on the Wolves had to be very pleased.
The Wolves went into the locker room after the first period up 3-0. First, it was Petteri Lindbohm lighting the lamp with a great feed from Alex Friesen.
The Wolves went up 2-0 after Brett Sterling picked up a rebound right in front of the net. Sterling, Calder Cup winner with the Wolves in 2008, did not see action in the first round of the playoffs.
And to go up 3-0, rookie Jake Walman received a cross-ice pass from Dunn and beat Griffins goalie Jared Coreau stickside for his second goal of the playoffs.
The Griffins cut the deficit to one in the second period, with goals from Kyle Criscuolo and Evgeny Svechnikov. After two periods, the Griffins were up in the shots on goal 25-20.
Mackenzie MacEachern put the Wolves up 4-2 in the opening minutes of the third period giving the Wolves a two goal lead once again.
The Griffins would not go away though. Matt Lorito shot from the point got past Husso at 8: 45 in the third to make it 4-3. But to no prevail, the Wolves managed to go up two goals once again in game two. Rookie Tage Thompson netted his first goal of the playoffs and made it 5-3. Thompson became the fourth rookie to score in these playoffs for the Wolves.
Alex Friesen scored…on an empty net! Around four minutes left in the period, Coreau tried to pass it to one of his teammates but turned the puck over leading to Friesen’s second of the playoffs. 6-3 Wolves.
Vince Dunn added icing on the cake with a powerplay goal with 2:29 left in the third period to make ti 7-3.
The Wolves were a completely different team tonight. They played with a lot more energy and were way more aggressive. They improved in all three levels of their game Friday night. The Wolves showed what they are capable of and how dangerous they can be.
They answered their coaches call of competing more that’s for sure.
The Wolves and Griffins will now take the series to Grand Rapids tied at 1. Game 3 is Saturday, May 6th at the Van Andel Arena. Puck drop is at 6 p.m.