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Hamilton Bulldogs 2 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 5

Feb. 4, 2012

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.Gustav Nyquist’s first two-goal game as a pro and a solid 32-save performance by Jordan Pearce in his first start in five weeks pushed the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 5-2 triumph over the Hamilton Bulldogs on Saturday before a crowd of 7,789 at Van Andel Arena.

The score was a mirror image of Friday’s decision that favored the Bulldogs, thanks in part to a Griffins power play unit that capitalized on two of its three chances and disciplined play that limited Hamilton to just one unsuccessful try of its own.

Grand Rapids (19-18-4-4), which leapt back over Hamilton by a single point in the North Division standings after being passed last night, will have a full week of practice before diving into a rare three-in-three set at home starting at 7 p.m. Friday against the Houston Aeros.

Following a scoreless and penalty-free opening period, the Griffins took advantage of the game’s first power play to strike at 8:27 of the second, with Francis Pare one-timing a blast past Nathan Lawson from the top of the left circle.

It was a short-lived lead, though, as only 22 seconds later the Bulldogs (20-20-1-4) burst up ice and evened the score when Dany Masse’s long wrist shot from the left side snuck inside the far post of Pearce, who made first start since Dec. 30 after recovering from an ankle injury.

The same frustrating sequence would recur later in the period. Grand Rapids tallied its second power play goal in as many opportunities with 2:56 left, as Nyquist’s shot from the point slipped through a sea of bodies and found the back of the net. But Hamilton made the Griffins pay 31 seconds later for a turnover in their zone and their subsequent failure to clear the puck. Andreas Engqvist found the carom of a long shot that banged off the end boards and beat Pearce, making it a 2-2 game at the second intermission.

The Griffins’ three-goal third period was sparked at the 4:53 mark, when Fabian Brunnstrom won a race to a stray puck at the left faceoff dot and quickly turned and fired a shot that sailed into the top of the cage. Grand Rapids then scored twice in a 33-second span to go ahead 5-2, as Nyquist -- whose impressive week began with an assist in the Western Conference's comeback victory in Monday's AHL All-Star Game -- scored his second off his own rebound at 9:41 before Mitch Callahan stormed the crease to pot Trevor Parkes’ feed into a wide-open net.

Robert Mayer relieved Lawson in goal for Hamilton, stopping the only two shots he faced over the final half of the period, while Pearce slammed the door to record his second win of the season and first since Nov. 11.

Notes: Brendan Smith’s assist on Pare’s goal pushed his career-high point streak to seven games (3-5—8), the longest run for a Griffin this season…Pare’s 72nd career goal tied him with Darryl Bootland for fifth place in franchise history. In addition, with his 265th game as a Griffin, Pare moved past Derek King into sole possession of ninth all time.

Three Stars: 1. GR Nyquist (two goals); 2. GR Brunnstrom (goal, assist); 3. GR Pearce (W, 32 saves)

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