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GRIFFINS MATCH BEST-EVER START


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – An early-season battle between the North Division’s top two teams lived up to its billing on Wednesday, with the Syracuse Crunch outlasting the Grand Rapids Griffins by a 2-1 count in a shootout.

Despite the setback, the Griffins (4-0-1-1) have tied a franchise record for best start to a season with 10 points through six games, and they now stand as the only AHL team without a regulation loss. They’ll try to extend their point streak to seven games this Friday when they visit the Bradley Center for an 8 p.m. EDT tilt against the Milwaukee Admirals.

Following just the second scoreless opening period for Grand Rapids this season, Syracuse (6-1-0-0) got on the board 2:36 into the middle frame. Seconds after a penalty on the Crunch’s Steve Kelly expired, Kelly and Nikita Filatov broke in alone against Jimmy Howard, and Filatov finished off the rush by deftly slipping the puck inside the right post.

Ryan Oulahen tied matters at the 11:17 mark, taking a pass from Justin Abdelkader inside the line, swooping down the slot and lifting a shot into the top left corner of Steve Mason’s cage from close range for his third goal of the year.

Mason, who was making his pro debut, kept Grand Rapids’ high-octane offense in check the rest of the way, preserving the deadlock despite his team’s 10-5 deficit in shots during the third period and overtime.

After logging 32 saves, Mason stopped all four Griffins attempts in the shootout, while both Filatov and Maksim Mayorov managed to solve Howard to maintain Syracuse’s first-place standing in the division. Howard suffered the first blemish on his record (2-0-1) this season, finishing with 23 saves.


Three Stars: 1. SYR Mason (W, 32 saves); 2. GR Howard (SOL, 23 saves); 3. SYR Filatov (1 goal, 1 shootout goal)
 

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