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DUCKS ONE-UP GRIFFINS FOR A CHANGE

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A pair of Cincinnati goals in the game’s first 15:19 proved too much for the Grand Rapids Griffins and their struggling offense to overcome on Sunday, as they fell 2-1 to the Mighty Ducks at Van Andel Arena.

The defeat, which gave the Griffins their first five-game winless streak (0-4-0-1) in more than two years, also dropped Grand Rapids into third place in the West Division, two points behind new leader Chicago and one in back of Milwaukee.

The Griffins (18-11-1-1), who suffered their first loss of the season to Cincinnati following a quartet of one-goal victories, will get another shot at the Ducks (13-17-0-2) on Tuesday in a 7 p.m. start at Van Andel Arena.

The Ducks took advantage of defensive breakdowns by Grand Rapids to score a pair of first-period goals in isolation on Griffins netminder Joey MacDonald. Just 5:17 into the frame, Stanislav Chistov sped around a Griffins defender at the blue line, swooped down the left side and beat MacDonald with a forehand shot after deking to his backhand.

Former Ferris State standout Chris Kunitz added to the visitors’ advantage during a power play at the 15:19 mark. The puck pinballed to a wide-open Kunitz low on the right side, and the one-time Hobey Baker candidate popped a shot top-shelf for a 2-0 Cincinnati lead.

Midway through the second period, the Griffins squandered 85 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play, but they finally lit the scoreboard with 1:39 remaining in the frame. Behind the net, Ducks goalie Ilya Bryzgalov put the puck right on the stick of Darryl Bootland, who skated out to the right of the goal and slipped a backhand into the vacated cage. That goal broke a home-ice scoring drought of 98:33 for the Griffins, but still left them with a one-goal deficit entering the final period.

With 3:28 remaining in the third, Bootland drew a hooking penalty on Cincinnati’s Casey Hankinson to present the Griffins with their fifth power play of the night and a chance at the equalizer. A subsequent boarding call on Shane O’Brien gave Grand Rapids a two-man advantage for 33 seconds with 2:02 showing on the clock. The 5-on-3 went by the boards, and despite playing all but the final second with a 6-on-4 advantage after pulling MacDonald with 50 ticks left, the Griffins were unable to manage a decent scoring chance on Bryzgalov.

MacDonald made 25 saves in the losing effort, while Bryzgalov answered with 24 to backstop the Ducks to their third straight win and fourth victory in their last five outings. Grand Rapids has been outscored 13-5 during its current skid.


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