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OVERJOYED IN OVERTIME


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
– Justin Abdelkader’s second power play goal of the night at 3:03 of overtime on Wednesday lifted the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 3-2 win over the Toronto Marlies at Van Andel Arena.

Less than a minute after the Griffins had killed off a Marlies power play, Mattias Ritola fired a shot from the right circle that Toronto netminder Justin Pogge got a piece of, but Abdelkader cleaned up the loose puck on the goal line to keep Grand Rapids (26-9-6-3) within a point of first-place Manitoba in the North Division race.

The Griffins, who improved to 15-3-3-3 at home and 2-6 in games decided in overtime, will continue their five-game homestand by hosting the Quad City Flames this Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. each night.

Grand Rapids grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first seven minutes of the opening period. During a power play at the 3:35 mark, Abdelkader collected a rebound of Ritola’s long-range shot and quickly whipped the puck into a gaping net from the bottom of the right circle.

Darren Haydar notched his 500th pro point at 6:44, leading a 2-on-1 down the right side and sending a pass across to rookie sensation Francis Pare, who slammed a shot past Pogge from the left circle for his 15th goal of the campaign.

Grand Rapids maintained that two-goal cushion until 5:06 of the third period, as Mark Bell blistered a shot over Jimmy Howard’s shoulder from the left faceoff dot to make it a 2-1 game. Toronto (21-16-2-5) then netted the equalizer and secured its point with just 4:05 remaining, when Bates Battaglia went around a Griffins defender along the right boards, worked his way to the net and roofed a shot just inside the crossbar.

The Griffins took advantage of a wide disparity in power play opportunities, finishing 2-for-10 while holding the Marlies scoreless over their three chances. It marked Grand Rapids’ 12th perfect penalty killing performance in the last 13 contests.   

By stopping 24-of-26 shots on the night, Howard earned his seventh win in his last 10 games, having held the opposition to two or fewer goals in each of those victories. Pogge made 27 saves in the loss.

Three Stars: 1. GR Abdelkader (two power play goals); 2. GR Pare (goal); 3. TOR Battaglia (goal)
 

Griffins Game Rewind
GriffVision Game Highlights
WOOD Radio Highlights: 1 2 3
Post-Game Sound Bites: 1 2 3
Official Game Report

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