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ROLLIN' ON THE RIVERMEN


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Returning from a five-game absence due to a concussion, Jimmy Howard made 24 saves to best former Detroit Red Wings netminder Manny Legace and guide the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 4-1 win over the Peoria Rivermen on Friday at Van Andel Arena.

Darren McCarty and Garrett Stafford each had a goal and an assist while Ryan Oulahen had a pair of assists to help the Griffins claim their fourth win in five games and stay within five points of first-place Manitoba in the North Division race.

Grand Rapids (38-16-6-6) will attempt to sweep the two-game set against the Rivermen (33-30-1-1) in Saturday’s 7 p.m. rematch, the second contest of the Griffins’ three-in-three weekend at home.

The Griffins took advantage of Julian Talbot’s four-minute high-sticking penalty late in the first period to jump out on top, as Stafford’s blast from the point sailed past Legace into the top of the net with 1:35 remaining in the frame. Darren Haydar earned the first assist to extend his team-high point streak to 10 games, the longest for a Griffin since Matt Hussey registered points in 10 straight games from Jan. 19-Feb. 18, 2007. Haydar’s streak is now tied for the seventh-longest in franchise history.

Oulahen and Aaron Gagnon joined forces for a beautiful shorthanded tally 6:37 into the second period, converting a 2-on-1 rush. After drawing the lone defender to him along the left side, Oulahen backhanded a centering pass to a charging Gagnon, who batted the bouncing puck past Legace from the doorstep to make it a 2-0 lead.

An ill-timed Rivermen line change late in the second allowed McCarty to skate in alone on Legace, and he beat his longtime Red Wings teammate with a forehand deke and a backhand just inside the left post at the 18:56 mark, pushing the advantage to three. Oulahen tallied his second assist of the night on the play to notch his 30th point of the campaign, matching his career high set last season.

Justin Abdelkader tied a Griffins rookie record (Kevyn Adams, 1996-97) with his 22nd goal of the season 9:11 into the third, deflecting a McCarty shot to put Grand Rapids up 4-0, but Peoria’s Jonas Junland scored 1:29 later to break Howard’s shutout bid.

Legace made 31 saves in his first Grand Rapids appearance since leading the Griffins to a 7-2 win over Hamilton on Dec. 30, 2005 during a conditioning stint.

Three Stars: 1. GR Howard (W, 24 saves); 2. GR McCarty (goal, assist); 3. GR Oulahen (two assists)
 

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