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Lake Erie Monsters 3 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 5

Feb. 25, 2011

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – In a game that was as close to a must-win for Grand Rapids as one in February can be, the Griffins parlayed goals from five different players into a 5-3 win over the Lake Erie Monsters on Friday before a crowd of 8,398 at Van Andel Arena.

Francis Pare, Jamie Johnson and Jamie Tardif each had a goal and an assist, while Ilari Filppula chipped in two assists to help the Griffins extend their point streak to a season-high five games (3-0-0-2) and improve to 4-1-0-3 in their last eight contests.

Grand Rapids (26-24-1-8), which moved to within seven points of the Monsters and the other two North Division co-leaders (Manitoba and Hamilton) in the race for three likely playoff spots, will complete a home-and-home against Lake Erie with a 7:30 p.m. start on Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Griffins scored with 1:17 elapsed and 1:14 remaining in the first period to take a 2-0 lead to the locker room, with Tardif and Filppula factoring in both goals. On an early rush into the Monsters’ zone, Tardif centered a pass from the right boards for Tomas Tatar, who potted the puck inside John Grahame’s right post.

Then in the waning minutes, Tardif tallied during a power play while camping out in the slot, somehow getting a stick on Derek Meech’s slap shot from the point while being knocked to the ice for his team-high 22nd goal of the season. It also marked his 73rd goal as a Griffin, moving him into a tie with Derek King for third place in franchise history.

Lake Erie (30-24-3-5) needed only 4:16 of the second period to even the score 2-2, capitalizing on a pair of power play chances. Mark Olver tallied his AHL rookie-leading 22nd goal on a rebound at 2:37, before Matthew Ford dove for a loose puck low in the left circle and put it past Jordan Pearce at 4:16.

The Griffins turned the tables on the Monsters in the third, scoring twice to rebuild their two-goal advantage. Johnson redirected Doug Janik’s blast between Grahame’s pads at the 2:17 mark, and Pare scored from close quarters off a beautiful feed from Joakim Andersson at 9:29 to make it a 4-2 contest.

Greg Mauldin scored on a deflection to pull the Monsters back to within one with 4:11 remaining, making the last few minutes tense for the home team, but Chris Minard scored into an empty net at 19:40 for the final margin.

Pearce finished with 34 saves to improve to 7-2-0-4 in his last 13 decisions, while Grahame made 22 stops in defeat.

Notes: Greg Amadio made a special on-ice appearance during a second-intermission ceremony to have his hair cut and donated to Locks of Love. His last haircut had been in June 2009…Grand Rapids’ record is more than one game away from 0.500 for the first time since Nov. 19 (8-6-0-3), a span of 42 contests…With a victory on Saturday against the Monsters, the Griffins would post their first three-game winning streak since Dec. 5-11, 2009, ending a drought of 114 games.

Three Stars: 1. GR Pare (game-winning goal, assist); 2. LE Mauldin (goal); 3. GR Johnson (goal, assist)

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