Dec. 15, 2010 – Houston Aeros 2 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 5
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – On the strength of three first-period goals, the Grand Rapids Griffins earned their third win in their last four tries at Van Andel Arena on Wednesday, a 5-2 decision over the Houston Aeros.
Jordan Owens had a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a goal, an assist and a fight, while Jamie Johnson and Francis Pare each tallied a goal and two assists to help the Griffins claim their largest margin of victory on home ice this season.
The Griffins (13-12-1-4), who have won consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 6-7 and consecutive home games for the first time this season, will look to continue their hot hand at Van Andel Arena on Friday when they close out their homestand against the Peoria Rivermen at 7 p.m.
The Griffins enjoyed one of their finest opening periods of the season, taking a 3-0 lead for the first time since their 6-3 win at Toronto on Oct. 24. The barrage started just 4:12 into the game, when Pare popped home Jamie Tardif’s feed from the slot. Johnson earned the first assist after taking control of the puck along the end boards, extending his point streak to a season-high five games.
Owens gave the Griffins their first 2-0 home-ice lead of the campaign at the 7:55 mark, stealing the puck at the Houston blueline, skating into the right circle and whipping a shot past Anton Khudobin, who was subsequently replaced in net by Matt Hackett. The shorthanded goal, Grand Rapids’ fifth in the last nine games, gave the team an AHL-high eight on the season, matching its total output from the 2009-10 campaign.
Owens dropped the gloves with Drew Bagnall two minutes after his goal, before Jakub Kindl made it a three-goal advantage on a power play goal with 4:33 left in the frame. He launched a wrister from the right point that somehow threaded its way through a sea of bodies and snuck inside the far post.
Following a scoreless second period, Johnson added to the Griffins’ haul 4:27 into the third, shooting into an open net from the left side after a Houston defenseman accidentally plowed into Hackett, who ended up at the bottom of the right circle.
The Aeros’ Cody Almond spoiled Joey MacDonald’s shutout bid with a power play marker exactly one minute later, while Colton Gillies notched a backdoor goal with 3:17 left to make it a two-goal game. But Brent Raedeke scored into an empty net on assists from Ilari Filppula and Owens at 18:54 for the final margin.
MacDonald made 17 saves to improve to 6-3-1 on the season, including 3-1 in his last four appearances. Khudobin escaped a decision after stopping only one of three shots, leaving Hackett to suffer the loss despite 24 saves.
Three Stars: 1. GR Johnson (goal, two assists); 2. GR Pare (goal, two assists); 3. GR Owens (shorthanded goal, assist)