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BELATED CHRISTMAS PRESENT

Dec. 26, 2010 – Lake Erie Monsters 3 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 5

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins rode four third-period goals to their fourth win in their last five home games, a 5-3 triumph over the Lake Erie Monsters on Sunday at Van Andel Arena.

Five Griffins enjoyed multi-point outings while Joey MacDonald stopped 31 shots to give him four wins in his last five appearances as well.

The victory catapulted the Griffins past Lake Erie and Manitoba into fourth place in a tight North Division race, putting them just one point behind third-place Abbotsford and three behind Toronto in the standings. Grand Rapids will visit Chicago on Monday at 8 p.m. EST before hosting the second-place Marlies for its 14th annual New Year’s Eve bash on Friday at 6 p.m.

Great efforts by Francis Pare and Ilari Filppula helped produce the game’s first goal during a power play 13:24 into the opening period. Shortly after Pare had done yeoman’s work in the left corner to keep the puck deep in the Lake Erie zone, Filppula took possession low along the left boards, darted toward the net and feigned a shot before centering a pass to a pinching Travis Ehrhardt, who scooped a shot into a gaping cage from the right hashmarks.

The Monsters needed only 90 seconds to tie the score. Former Griffin Patrick Rissmiller sent a blast from the top of the left circle that MacDonald denied at the near post, but Matthew Ford quickly collected the rebound and slipped a feed across the crease to Mark Olver for an easy backdoor tap-in.

Olver had an opportunity to give Lake Erie the lead on a partial breakaway with just over four minutes remaining in the second period, but MacDonald made a brilliant glove save from close quarters to preserve the deadlock.

Tomas Tatar put the Griffins ahead 2-1 at the 6:18 mark of the third, potting Ehrhardt’s pass from the left side, before Logan Pyett made it a two-goal advantage by notching Grand Rapids’ second power play goal of the night from the left point exactly three minutes later.

David Van der Gulik trimmed the Monsters’ deficit to 3-2 by scoring from the doorstep during a delayed penalty at 10:38, but just 21 seconds later, Joakim Andersson crashed the crease to put Jordan Owens’ rebound past John Grahame for his second goal in as many games.

Filppula scored into an empty net at 18:19 to increase the cushion to 5-2, before Ryan Stoa scored a power play goal with Grahame pulled at 19:25 for the final margin. Grahame, a veteran of 224 NHL games, made just 11 saves in the loss.

Notes: The Griffins ensured themselves a winning record for their record-tying 10-game December home schedule, as they stand 5-3-1-0 heading into Friday’s New Year’s Eve affair...Grand Rapids dressed just 17 skaters, one shy of the limit, due to injuries to Cory Emmerton, Doug Janik, Derek Meech and Brent Raedeke.

Three Stars: 1. GR Ehrhardt (power play goal, assist); 2. GR MacDonald (W, 31 saves); 3. GR Tatar (goal, assist)
 

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