Nick Henry completed a string of three unanswered goals for the Utah Grizzlies with the game-winning tally 50 seconds into overtime to give the Utah Grizzlies a 5-4 win over the Rapid City Rush on Saturday night. The overtime loss gives the Rush 3 of a possible four points up for grabs in their “three-in-three” this weekend with the series finale looming tomorrow afternoon.
For a third straight game, the Rush opened up the scoring entries, but left deadlocked after 20 minutes in a back and forth frame. Cedric Montminy started things off for the Rush at 6:46 when he took advantage of a Utah turnover and rifled a shot through the five-hole of Utah goalie Evan Buitenhuis, giving the Rush an early 1-0 lead (the goal was unassisted). Moments later, Utah fired back on their first power play of the game courtesy of Ryan Lowney. At 9:06, Lowney flung a shot from the point through a screened Adam Carlson in net for the Rush, squaring the game at 1-1 (Ty Lewis and Trey Bradley assisted). Following the tying goal, Mike Hedden took another turnover from the Grizzlies defense, this time right in front of the net, and backhanded it by Buitenhuis for his third goal in as many games, putting the Rush back on top at 2-1 with 6:13 left in the first (the goal was unassisted). The Grizzlies answered again though, this time with Hunter Skinner making up for his mistake on the turnover that caused Hedden’s goal. Skinner threw a shot past Carlson, screened again, to square the game up at 2-2 with 4:45 left in the first (Lowney and Jack Jenkins assisted).
The Rush pulled away with a pair of goals in the second, beginning with Andrew Sturtz on the power play. Just 97 seconds into the frame, Kevin Spinozzi hit Sturtz with a stretch pass between every neutral zone defender. Sturtz streaked into the Grizzlies zone and dangled with a backhand shot past Buitenhuis to re-establish the Rush lead at 3-2 (Spinozzi and Adam Carlson assisted). Avery Peterson doubled the lead moments later after Buitenhuis stopped a shot and thought he had the puck covered, when instead a rebound was produced that Peterson slammed home to give the Rush a 4-2 lead with 9:15 left in the second (Tyler Coulter and Peter Quenneville assisted). Following the goal, Buitenhuis was removed from the game and replaced by Kevin Carr in Utah’s net.
The Grizzlies came back with a pair of goals in the third to tie the game up and eventually force overtime. Just 3:57 into the final period, Mathew Boucher deflected a Garrett Johnston blue line shot by Carlson to bring Utah within striking distance at 4-3 (Johnston and Mitch Maxwell assisted). Under two and a half minutes later on the final Grizzlies power play, Lowney earned his second goal of the contest, once again from the blue line through traffic to tie the game at 4-4 with 6:23 played in the third (Lewis and Maxwell assisted). The Rush earned a power play in the final minutes of regulation, but couldn’t muster a late game-winning goal, and so overtime was on the docket for a second straight night.
Previously winless in eight games past 60 minutes, Utah finally earned their first postregulation win of the year. Just 50 seconds into overtime, Nick Henry rifled a back-door one-timer on a Lowney pass to win the game for Utah with a 5-4 final score. Despite the loss, the Rush pick up a crucial point, and have collected 3 of a possible 4 in their series thus far, with the finale looming tomorrow.
Adam Carlson, starting for a third straight game, suffered the overtime loss, stopping 34 of 39 in the effort (4-4-1-0).