A bizarre and unpredictable night, marred with penalties throughout on both sides, ended with a 6-5 loss by the AHL-leading Grand Rapids Griffins to the last-place Cleveland Barons at Quicken Loans Arena Wednesday night.
Nate DiCasmirro ignited the Griffins scoring charge early with a crisp feed from behind the net to a locked-and-loaded Kyle Quincey at the point, who fired a bullet past Dmitri Patzold into the upper-right corner of the net for a 1-0 Griffins advantage at 9:01 of the first period. Donald MacLean also drew an assist on the play for his 83rd point of the season. A shot by Valtteri Filppula from the right-side boards found a clear path to the stick of Brett Lebda, who redirected the puck instantaneously to net a 2-0 Grand Rapids edge at 16:48 of the frame.
The Barons struck back on a two-man advantage to start a wild second stanza, executing perfect tic-tac-toe passing from the right-to-left circle, as Mike Iggulden buried a one-timer behind Drew MacIntyre for his 21st goal of the year at 2:11.
A flurry of goals five in all followed over a 4:54 span, starting when Clay Wilson answered the bell with a short-handed lamp-lighter a foreboding wrister from the high slot which both mesmerized and cleanly bested Patzold for a very brief 3-1 Griffins margin at 5:09. The floodgates would then open in the wrong direction for Greg Irelands troops.
Grand Rapids finally paid for its continuous transgressions and trips to the penalty box, as Garrett Stafford notched his 11th goal on the power play just forty seconds after Wilsons strike. 27 seconds later, Tim Conboy followed with his sixth to draw the Barons even at three with 13:44 remaining in the second. Tomas Plihal turned the tables with a short-handed marker, capping a three-goal Cleveland run at 9:15 for a 4-3 lead change.
Eric Manlow stopped the sieve momentarily with a power play tally, his 23rd, at 10:03 with help from MacLean and Kent McDonell to bring the Griffins back to sea level at four-all. But a costly major penalty for spearing assessed to Darryl Bootland, accompanied by a ten-minute game misconduct, resulted in two additional goals for Cleveland on the ensuing uninterrupted five-minute power play. Matt Carkner and Tom Cavanagh potted the difference-makers for a 6-4 score. Filppula added his 19th at 2:31 of the third on a tip-in from the doorstep off a Tomas Kopecky shot, capping a 6-5 final.
A dubious distinction for the Griffins on the night: the six goals surrendered in the second period set an all-time team record for scores allowed in a single frame breaking the previous record of five, reached six previous times. The Griffins continue with the remainder of a five-game road trip with a Saturday game in Syracuse and a Sunday tilt in Rochester.