TORONTO – Francis Lemieux scored two goals and added an assist, but it wasn’t enough as the Grand Rapids Griffins allowed a franchise-record 10 goals in a 10-5 loss to the Toronto Marlies at the Ricoh Coliseum on Sunday. The Marlies notched five power-play goals against the Griffins, who boasted the league’s top-ranked penalty kill heading into the game.
The loss marked the first time the Griffins (31-11-6-4) have lost back-to-back games in regulation since Nov. 16-18 at Milwaukee. Darren Haydar and Garrett Stafford both extended their point streaks to four games for Grand Rapids, while Toronto (24-19-2-5) forward Tim Stapleton became the third player in history to score four goals against the Griffins.
Lemieux scored the first goal of the game, notching his 10th of the season at the 5:15 mark of the first period, but that lead only lasted 38 seconds, until Andre Deveaux tied the game at 1-1 with a shot from on top of the right circle. Stapleton took a centering pass from Jiri Tlusty and beat Daniel Larsson to the stick side to put the Marlies up 2-1 7:30 into the first. Alex Foster’s goal 1:11 after that chased Larsson and marked the third Marlies’ goal in a span of 2:48.
The change to Jimmy Howard did not stop the scoring onslaught, as Stapleton scored Toronto’s fourth goal with 8:35 left in the first period and then completed the hat trick with a power-play goal 45 seconds later. The teams went into the locker room with the score 5-2 after Lemieux scored with seven seconds left on a 5-on-3 power play late in the first.
Foster gave the Marlies another four-goal lead with his second goal of the day 5:41 into the second period. Following the goal, Howard went back to the bench and Larsson got his second tour of duty. Toronto got to him again, as Anton Stralman and Deveaux scored back-to-back power-play goals in a span of 59 seconds during a five-minute major to Aaron Downey. The two goals spelled the end of the day for Larsson, as Howard re-entered the game with the score 8-2.
Justin Abdelkader notched his 15th goal of the campaign with 1:21 left in the second period to send the teams into the second break with the score at 8-3. Evan McGrath made it 8-4 during another 5-on-3 power play and then Haydar scored while the Griffins still had a one-man advantage to bring Grand Rapids to within three.
Stapleton scored his fourth goal of the day on a 5-on-3 power play with 2:02 remaining in the game, establishing a new franchise record for Grand Rapids with nine goals-against in one game. Deveaux extended that record to 10 goals with his power-play goal at the 19:19 mark of the third, completing Toronto’s second hat trick.
Three Stars: 1. TOR Stapleton (4 goals); 2. TOR Tlusty (4 assists); 3. TOR Deveaux (3 goals, assist)