After a very successful, if brief home-stand, the Grizzlies were back on the road again in the Quad Cities. With Chris Leibinger and Mitch Jones still out, the Grizzlies again went with five defensemen and eleven forwards. After all, why mess with success? Joel Rumpel got the start in nets.
The Mallards were full of jump early, but after five minutes both teams had three shots each. The teams continued to exchange zone time, but it was Utah who struck first, Brad Navin extending his points streak to six games with a big shot for his tenth goal of the year. Austin Ortega and Sam Windle got the assists. Unfortunately, a couple of minutes later, Quad City tied it up on a huge shot of their own.
The Grizzlies got the first power play of the game, but were unable to get anything going. However, Ryan Walters gave them back the lead moments afterward.
Windle got an elbowing penalty at 16:49, but the Grizzlies killed it off, and after 20, they led 2-1, out-shooting the Mallards 11-7.
Navin sprang Ortega on a glorious breakaway 3:16 into the second, giving them a brief two goal lead. The Mallards drew within one again just over a minute later, however.
Walters went down with 11:45 to go either from a stick or the puck, but he remained on the bench, and ended up not missing a shift.
Brendan Harms had a couple of great looks one one shift around the half-way mark of the period, while Sam Babintsev and Mitch Maxwell both had great opportunities to get their firsts of the year.
All three lines had an amazing couple of shifts shortly after the fifteen minute mark, but weren’t able to beat Ivan Kulbakov, who had himself quite a game.
Harms and Kulbakov took matching minors at 18:39, and at the end of the second, Utah had out-shot the Mallards 23-12 in the frame, hitting the locker room up 3-2.
Ryan Misiak got in all alone about four minutes into the third, and made no mistake, giving Utah their second two goal lead of the game.
After what had been a pretty good shift, Nate Mitton took a tripping call at the seven minute mark, which Utah killed off. The action went back and forth through most of the rest of the period, Rumpel making a number of big saves, and Ortega nearly getting a second goal.
James Melindy took a high-sticking call with 2:19 to go and the Mallards pulled Kulbakov to skate six-on-four. With less than a minute to go, Walters put the cap on the victory, scoring short-handed into the empty net from Richart.
Ortega (one goal, one assist), and Walters (two goals) earned the first two stars of the night, while Navin (one goal one assist), and Richart (two assists) also picked up multiple points. Moreover, Navin (ten points) and Richart (nine points) extended their streaks to six straight games, while Ortega (seventeen points) extended his to eight. Though they didn’t come in consecutive games, Misiak has eight and Walters has six points over the span on the winning streak.
Utah looks to keep rolling, and start March off on the right foot with their seventh straight win tonight against the Mallards.
Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard, Jess Fleming, and staff.