Chicago (49-24-1-6) finished the season in first place in the West Division - marking the club’s second division title in three years – and will open the 2010 Calder Cup playoffs at home against the Milwaukee Admirals on Wed., April 14 at 7 p.m.
Defenseman Paul Postma led the charge for the Wolves with three points (G, 2A), while forwards Spencer Machacek (G, A), Johnny Pohl (G, A), Anthony Stewart 2A) and Joey Crabb (2A) also had multiple-point nights. Grand Rapids right wing Jeremy Williams posted three goals in the game’s final 13 minutes to notch a hat trick.
Wolves goaltender Peter Mannino (26-5-1) kicked out 35 of 39 shots to collect his career-high 26th win of the season.
“We controlled the game for two periods but we’ve been struggling to play a full 60 minutes,” said Wolves Head Coach Don Lever. “We played a team that had nothing to lose and was loose.”
Postma got the Wolves off to a 1-0 lead with a power play goal at 13:07 of the first period. The blueliner came streaking in from the right of the goal and slapped home a feed from Crabb.
Center Kevin Doell converted on a breakaway to make the Wolves lead 2-0, 16:08 into the first period. Machacek chipped the puck up the ice to Doell, who took off alone into the Griffins zone before pulling up, deking and flicking a shot past Griffins goaltender Thomas McCollum.
Right wing Tim Stapleton roofed a shot over a fallen McCollum with 24 seconds remaining in the first period to give Chicago a 3-0 lead heading into the intermission.
Machacek made Chicago’s lead 4-0 with a shorthanded goal, 1:11 into the second period. The right wing intercepted the puck, raced up the ice ahead of the defense and flung a shot from the near circle that saucered past McCollum.
Right wing Francis Pare snagged a power-play goal to get Grand Rapids (33-39-3-4) on the board at 15:01 of the second period when he deflected a long blast from defenseman Doug Janik, lifting it up over Mannino’s shoulder as he dropped down to stop the shot from the blue line.
The Wolves responded with a fifth goal 25 seconds later when right wing Anthony Stewart carried the puck down the right side of the Griffins zone and flipped it back to center Johnny Pohl in the slot, where the right wing wasted no time cranking it past McCollum.
McCollum (10-16-2) turned aside 21 shots for Grand Rapids.
The Griffins made the score 5-2 with a power-play goal at 8:46 of the third period. Williams took a pass from Cory Emmerton at the left corner of the goal mouth and popped it past Mannino.
Grand Rapids inched closer, 5-3, when center Justin Abdelkader picked up a loose puck and found Williams alone in the slot, where he was able to wrist a shot over Mannino’s shoulder to pick up his second goal of the game.
Pohl tallied his second of the game with 2:36 left to play after carrying the puck into the zone himself, deking and lifting a shot up under the crossbar.
Williams beat Mannino, glove side, with 19 seconds left in the game to complete a hat trick.
The Wolves will host the first two contests of the best-of-seven-games West Division Semifinal against Milwaukee at the Allstate Arena on Wed., April 14, at 7 p.m., and Fri., April 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Grand Rapids 0 1 3 -- 4
Chicago 3 2 1 -- 6
First Period---1, Chicago, Postma 15 (Crabb, Anderson), 13:07 pp; 2, Chicago, Doell 16 (Machacek), 16:08; 3, Chicago, Stapleton 30 (Crabb, Postma), 19:36 pp. Penalties---Ritola, Grand Rapids (hooking), 0:32; Krog, Chicago (tripping), 5:21; Janik, Grand Rapids (interference), 11:32; Owens, Grand Rapids (roughing), 16:41; Chiarot, Chicago (roughing), 16:41; Armstrong, Grand Rapids (hooking), 18:24; Tollefsen, Grand Rapids (roughing), 20:00; Doell, Chicago (roughing, high-sticking), 20:00.
Second Period---4, Chicago, Machacek 20 (unassisted), 1:11 sh; 5, Grand Rapids, Pare 16 (Janik, Tatar), 15:01 pp; 6, Chicago, Pohl 19 (A. Stewart, Postma), 15:27. Penalties---May, Grand Rapids (roughing), 3:31; Armstrong, Grand Rapids (roughing), 4:59; Abdelkader, Grand Rapids (roughing, misconduct), 7:37; Sipotz, Chicago (roughing, misconduct), 7:37; Lashoff, Grand Rapids (slashing), 10:24; Chiarot, Chicago (tripping), 14:11.
Third Period---7, Grand Rapids, Williams 28 (Emmerton, Kindl), 7:46 pp; 8, Grand Rapids Williams 29 (Abdelkader), 10:21; 9, Chicago, Pohl 20 (A. Stewart), 17:24; 10, Grand Rapids, Williams 30 (Abdelkader), 19:41 sh. Penalties---Kaip, Chicago (hooking), 6:20; G. Stewart, Chicago (slashing), 17:39; Emmerton, Grand Rapids (hooking), 18:13.
Shots on goal---Grand Rapids: 14-14-11--39. Chicago: 12-12-3--27. Power plays---Grand Rapids: 2-6. Chicago: 2-6. Goalies---Grand Rapids, McCollum (21-27). Chicago, Mannino (35-39). A---14,019. Referee---Chris Ciamaga. Linesmen---Al Stensland and Aaron Mills.