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GRIFFINS GET SOME EXORCISE

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Two goals by Krys Kolanos, three assists from rookie Evan McGrath and 31 saves by Jimmy Howard paced the Grand Rapids Griffins to their biggest win of the young season on Saturday, a 6-2 exorcism of the Philadelphia Phantoms at Van Andel Arena.

Howard became the fastest goalie in franchise history to notch 30 career wins (30-8-2), accomplishing the feat in his 40th decision and 44th game played. Current Detroit Red Wing Joey MacDonald had set the standard in 42 decisions and 48 games played.

After being shut-out Friday against Toronto despite 49 shots, the Griffins struck at the 7:56 mark to take the early lead, as Eric Himelfarb slipped a shot through Scott Munroe’s five hole from the right boards. The Phantoms responded less than four minutes later during a power play, when Niko Dimitrakos collected a rebound of Petr Nedved’s shot and put the puck into a yawning net at 11:44.

Kolanos put Grand Rapids back on top 2:18 into the middle frame, as his centering pass from behind the net hit the blade of Munroe’s stick and deflected inside the right post. A string of three Griffins penalties midway through the period presented the Phantoms with four consecutive minutes of power play time, including two full minutes of a 5-on-3 advantage, but Grand Rapids’ penalty killers met the challenge by maintaining the 2-1 lead. Then, just eight seconds after the Griffins returned to full strength, Matt Ellis scored on a wraparound at the 12:34 mark to make it a two-goal cushion.

Darryl Bootland pushed the advantage to three with 1:46 remaining in the period, taking a pass from McGrath and beating Munroe cleanly from the slot.

Kolanos added his second goal of the night on a wrister from the left faceoff dot at 4:24 of the third, putting Grand Rapids ahead 5-1 with the power play marker and giving the team its first four-goal lead of the season. Matt Hussey tallied another goal with the advantage at 6:54 off a feed from Ellis, and Philadelphia’s Denis Tolpeko capped off the scoring with 1:16 remaining.
 
The Griffins converted two of six power play chances on the night while holding the Phantoms to a 1-for-8 performance. Munroe made 20 saves in the loss. Grand Rapids will conclude its season-high eight-game homestand next Friday and Saturday with a pair against the Manitoba Moose. Faceoff each night is set for 7 p.m.

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