ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Grand Rapids Griffins rattled off four third period goals en route to a 6-3 victory over the Rochester Americans at Blue Cross Arena on Friday.
Jordan Pearce provided a 32-save effort for his first win as a Griffin, leading Grand Rapids to become just the third team this season to claim a regulation win in Rochester.
Holding an overall record of 20-18-0-1, Grand Rapids will travel to Hamilton on Saturday for a 7:00 p.m. face off against the Bulldogs at Copps Coliseum.
The Americans (22-14-2-0) own the AHL’s best home power play, and its efficiency was on display just nine seconds in to their first man-advantage. At 2:59 of the opening period, with Evan McGrath whistled off for hooking, Jamie Johnson rifled a slap shot from the point, and Chris Taylor jammed in the net-front rebound for an early 1-0 lead.
Grand Rapids was quick to answer at the 5:19 mark when Mattias Ritola tipped in Logan Pyett’s blast from the right point.
In the middle frame, Grand Rapids built a 2-1 lead with a goal by Francis Lemieux at 1:53. Working the puck at the point, Pyett connected with Lemieux at the bottom of the right circle, from where he roofed a backhander for his first goal of the season.
Midway through of the period, Jimmy Bonneau put a late hit on McGrath at center ice, immediately setting up a fight between Bonneau and Ryan Stokes at 10:54. Stokes held his own against one of the league’s best, and due to the late hit, Bonneau was awarded an interference penalty along with his fighting major. The Griffins sustained offensive zone pressure for nearly the entire power play, but shortly after the Americans were even-up, Johnson rushed down the ice and scored on a nearly impossible angle from the right of Pearce.
The game was deadlocked at two going into the final 20 minutes, but Grand Rapids climbed on top when Tomas Tatar lit the lamp at 1:07 for his third goal in four games. From the right point, Pyett faked a slap shot and sent a pass to Tatar, who steered the puck in to the left side of the net from the top of the crease.
Rochester then turned an innocent-looking play into a goal just 1:59 later. On a failed breakout attempt by Grand Rapids, Jordan Henry pinched on the right-side boards and sent a rocket under the glove of Pearce to once again tie the game.
Grand Rapids climbed back on top by a 4-3 count at 9:02. From deep in the offensive zone, Michael Nylander took a sharp angle shot, setting up a goal-mouth scramble that ended with Mursak slamming home a rebound. Then, at 10:31, Jamie Tardif converged on a one-timer set up by Lemieux.
The Griffins finalized the score at 6-3 when Lemieux unleashed a cannon from the right circle with 6:14 remaining in regulation.
Alexander Salak stopped 29-of-35 shots in the loss for Rochester.
Three Stars: 1. GR Lemieux (2 goals, 1 assist); 2. GR Pyett (3 assists); 3. GR Pare (2 assists).