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Wolves squander two-goal lead, recover to edge Griffins 3-2

Updated: January 23, 2014 6:52AM

To beat a team like the Grand Rapids Griffins after losing a two-goal lead, you have to win some battles. That’s what Dmitrij Jaskin and the Wolves did.

Jaskin’s goal with 2:09 left in the third period gave the Wolves a 3-2 victory Saturday against the Griffins at Allstate Arena. Jake Allen made 20 saves, Mark Mancari had a goal and an assist and David Shields also scored for the Wolves (14-12-0-2), who led 2-0 before allowing the Griffins to pull even early in the third.

But after Jaskin got to a loose puck in front of the Griffins’ net, the Wolves had managed to beat one of the best teams in the American Hockey League.

‘‘This team has never quit,’’ coach John Anderson said. ‘‘They always keep pushing on. They do well in adversity. I knew we’d push on. I didn’t know whether we would win or not, but I knew that we would give a good account of ourselves.’’

For most teams, playing the reigning Calder Cup champion Griffins has been bad news. But not for the Wolves, who are 3-2 against the Griffins (21-6-1-1) this season and have handed them half of their six regulation losses.

The Griffins, who lead the Midwest Division, had won 12 of their last 14 games. But the Wolves controlled play for most of the night. They outshot the Griffins 36-22 and for long stretches didn’t look like a team that entered the night 16 points behind their opponent.

‘‘I don’t know,’’ Jaskin said when trying to explain the Wolves’ success against the Griffins. ‘‘We just probably like this team and like to play against them. Nothing special.’’

The Wolves asserted control early, taking a 1-0 lead less than three minutes into the game when a seemingly harmless shot from the slot by Mancari went off Griffins goalie Tom McCollum’s glove and into the net.

Shields’ goal at 2:25 of the second gave the Wolves a 2-0 lead, but Brennan Evans cut the lead in half at 13:16 of the second and Triston Grant tied the score 2:23 into the third.

‘‘We just stopped playing after [our] two goals,’’ Jaskin said. ‘‘It wasn’t really good for us. But I think in the third period we just stepped up and played our game again.’’

The Wolves played without captain Taylor Chorney (illness) but did get back forward Keith Aucoin, who had missed nine games with a lower-body injury.

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