GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The largest crowd ever for the Grand Rapids Griffins’ annual matinee game was treated to a scoring barrage on Tuesday. Unfortunately, nearly all of the salvos were launched off the sticks of the Milwaukee Admirals, who earned their second win at Van Andel Arena in five days with an 8-1 decision before 8,243 fans.
The Griffins (6-7-2-1), whose 0-4-1-0 skid is their longest since dropping five straight in regulation from Dec. 9-17, 2005, will try to climb back to the 0.500 mark on Friday when they close-out their four-game homestand with a 7 p.m. start against the Peoria Rivermen.
The Admirals (5-4-1-0) took advantage of their second power play of the opening period to go up 1-0. Set up in the right circle, Alexander Radulov took a pass from former Griffin Sheldon Brookbank and ripped a shot top-shelf over Stefan Liv at 15:50, giving Radulov the first of his six points (1-5—6) on the afternoon.
The Griffins managed to escape the first 8:30 of the second period unscathed despite being whistled four times and spending 6:38 killing penalties, including 43 seconds of a 5-on-3 Milwaukee power play. However, five seconds into Grand Rapids’ first advantage of the period, Brookbank struck for a shorthanded goal at 9:14 to give the Admirals a two-goal cushion. It was the fourth shorthanded goal allowed by the Griffins in their last seven home games.
The margin increased to three on a power play goal at 15:38 made possible by Radulov’s brilliant dangling. He stickhandled through several Griffins defenders before sending a cross-crease pass to Rich Peverley for an easy tap in. Grand Rapids finally responded at 17:18 when Brock Radunske converted a rebound from the slot for his second AHL goal and first as a Griffin, but Brookbank notched his second of the period from the right circle with just 1.2 ticks left on the clock to make it a 4-1 game at the second intermission.
Jimmy Howard entered the game in relief of Liv to start the third period but could not stem the tide, as a defensive breakdown during a 4-on-4 enabled an unchallenged Ville Koistinen to skate in and slip a shot inside the left post at the 1:55 mark. A goal by Cal O’Reilly (8:07) and two by Kevin Klein (12:06, 16:22) made it a seven-goal margin, the largest ever for the Griffins in a home loss. The eight goals allowed, meanwhile, tied a Grand Rapids record and were the most surrendered by the Griffins at home since an 8-4 defeat to Cincinnati on Dec. 31, 1996.
The Admirals, winners of three straight, have now won their last seven meetings with Grand Rapids, including their triumph in the 2006 Western Conference Finals.