With Sean Maguire making his first start in a Grizzlies’ uniform, the Grizzlies came out buzzing in Rapid City. Unfortunately, C.J. Eick took an early penalty. The penalty kill went to work, and the Rush’s power play suffered the fate of many early advantages.
Rapid City still struck first, however, as Peter Sivak continued his hot streak, converting on an absolutely gorgeous drop pass at 6:15.
The Grizzlies responded well, Taylor Richart got a pair of big shots, and the Rush took a boarding call. Kyle Thomas made it 1-1 on the power play from Ryan Walters and Austin Ortega.
Utah kept pressuring after the power play goal, Richart getting off a couple more big shots around the half-way mark, and then Thomas and Geoff Fortman went off for matching roughing calls. Very shortly afterward, Dante Salituro took an unsportsmanlike conduct, sending Utah to a four-on-three advantage for 1:20.
The Grizzlies set up well, and Richart, who’d been stellar all game, shot a rocket from the point to give Utah the 2-1 lead 14:14 into the period. For some reason the goal was eventually credited to Ortega, who didn’t touch the puck.
Navin continued to be snake bitten, getting a really nice look around the net, but Higby took a high-sticking call, and Utah headed to the kill again. On the bright side, the kill looked at least as good as the power play did, and after 20, Utah led 2-1, shots 15-6 in their favor.
Ortega got into a fight against Salituro at 4:03, getting an extra two for instigating, and thought the Grizzlies killed it off, Sivak immediately tied it up.
Alex Kromm and Sam Windle took matching roughing minors at 6:39, but the four-on-four expired with no alteration in score.
Howe got a really nice scoring chance with 9:27 to go in the second, as Utah continued to out-shoot the Rush.
Rapid City pressured through to the end of the period, but the second buzzer saw shots 21-10 for Utah, and a 2-2 tie game. The second period wasn’t as crisp and strong from either team.
The Grizzlies came out flying in the third, and after some delay on a face-off, Jones wired the puck and it ended up past Vay to give Utah back the lead. Walters was credited with his fifteenth of the year, Jones getting the primary.
Maguire pounced on a loose puck on the next shift to keep the game 3-2, as Utah had some trouble in their own end.
They pushed back after the media time-out, out-shooting Rapid City 11-5 through the first half of the period. Unfortunately, after a strong shift from Howe and company in the offensive zone, the puck went the other way, and they were unable to hold off the tying goal.
Ortega and Puskar almost put together the winning goal, as Ortega perfectly tipped a nice shot from Puskar, but Vay, who’d been having himself another really strong night, smothered it.
On the other end, Maguire shot the door after the Grizzlies lost the puck in their own zone.
The Grizzlies went to the power play at 14:24, but it was not one of their stronger outings of the night, and they failed to capitalize.
At the end of 60, the score remained 3-3, and for a league-leading 14th time, Utah went to OT, Utah out-shooting Rapid City 47-18.
Vay absolutely robbed Erik Higby about two minutes into OT, and shortly thereafter, Sivak capped off his hat trick. The Grizzlies were furious, as Rapid City had too many men on the ice. Although the extra players did not affect the play, it added an extra layer of frustration to the end of the game.
Utah put a season high 49 shots on Vay, who once again was stellar. Last game, the offense suffered for a tighter defensive game, while in this game, the offense looked good, while the defense got a little bit lax. Hopefully, the Grizzlies can find the right balance tonight.
Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard/Jess Fleming, and staff