Joni Tuulola made a fantastic game-saving play in the third period to back Anton Forsberg’s 46 saves and Graham Knott netted the game-winner as the Rockford IceHogs escaped with a 3-2 win over the Grand Rapids Griffins Friday night at Van Andel Arena.
Despite the Griffins boasting the best home record in the AHL, the IceHogs dealt Grand Rapids three of its 11 home losses this season.
While Forsberg was nearly unbreachable all night, Tuulola lent a helping hand in a crucial moment with the clock winding down and Rockford up 3-2. As Grand Rapids launched shots with an extra attacker in the third period, one puck snuck behind Forsberg and appeared to be the game-tying goal. Tuulola skated over, and at the last second, deflected the puck off its track to preserve the IceHogs’ one-goal lead.
Forsberg remained locked in from there to finish with 46 stops in his 12th victory of the season. The netminder turned away 19 pucks in the first period, 10 in the second frame and 17 in the final stanza to amass his second-largest save total of the season. The impressive effort trails only his 49-save game on Dec. 15 vs. Texas.
The IceHogs found just enough offense to support their netminder, potting a goal in each period to clip the Griffins. Andreas Martinsen netted the opening tally with a tip in on the doorstep of Patrik Rybar, and Luke Johnson rebuffed the lead to 2-1 after striking home a power-play goal at 19:18 in the second period.
Knott then scored the game-winner on a perfect setup from Victor Ejdsell. With Knott and Ejdsell racing toward Rybar on a rush, Ejdsell sent a pass right to Knott’s outstretched stick and the forward easily tapped the puck in the net for the decisive tally.
Turner Elson made it in interesting with a goal 14 minutes into the third period, but the Hogs held on to their 3-2 lead through the final heated minutes.