GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Behind Riley Armstrong’s two goals and another impressive effort by Thomas McCollum, the Grand Rapids Griffins continued their solid stretch run with a 6-3 triumph over the Rochester Americans on Wednesday at Van Andel Arena.
Justin Abdelkader and Jamie Tardif also led a barrage of 13 Griffins who recorded points and helped McCollum improve to 2-1-1 with a 0.920 save percentage over his last four outings.
Grand Rapids (32-38-3-4) will close out the home portion of its 2009-10 schedule on Friday when the Lake Erie Monsters pay a 7 p.m. visit to Van Andel Arena.
The seventh-place Griffins jumped on the second-place Americans in the first period, out-shooting their guests 15-9 while taking a 2-0 lead. Midway through the frame, a Rochester player collected a dump-in in the right corner but put the puck right on the stick of Tardif, who quickly found Armstrong at the left post for a tap-in at 10:56.
In the waning minutes of the stanza, Francis Pare led an odd-man rush into the Amerks’ zone and skated in on Tyler Plante before sending a feed across to Cory Emmerton, who redirected the puck into the top of the net from the doorstep at the 17:21 mark.
Rochester got on the board 10:16 into the second when Jeff Taffe popped a rebound past McCollum, but a pair of plays by Abdelkader helped give the Griffins a 4-1 advantage by the second intermission. After Jakub Kindl kept a clearing attempt in the Amerks’ zone along the right boards, Abdelkader grabbed the puck and quickly sent a pass to the top of the crease to an uncovered Jan Mursak, who slid a backhand past Plante at 16:04 for his 23rd goal of the season.
The next goal was all Abdelkader. Taking a pass from McCollum in the right circle, he headed up ice, weaved through several defenders and finally fired a wrist shot from the hash marks that dinged off the right post and across the line for a beautiful coast-to-coast tally with just 39 ticks left in the period.
The Griffins blew the doors off with two goals early in the final frame against reliever Alexander Salak, as Armstrong scored his second of the night from above the right circle at 2:29 and Brad May tipped home a shot from Logan Pyett at 4:42 to make it a 6-1 contest.
Rochester refused to go away quietly, though, as Michael Duco responded at 8:37 before a glaring turnover in front of the Griffins’ net left two Amerks alone with the puck in front of McCollum, and Jamie Johnson chipped it over the defenseless netminder with 3:47 remaining.
The fast-flowing game saw only one power play awarded to each team. McCollum, whose teammates finished with a 44-32 advantage in shots, turned aside 29 Rochester attempts, while reigning AHL goalie of the month Plante suffered the loss with 23 saves.
Three Stars: 1. GR Armstrong (two goals); 2. GR Abdelkader (game-winning goal, assist); 3. GR Tardif (two assists)