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MACINTYRE LEADS GRIFFINS TO 5-1 MAULING OF MOOSE

WINNIPEG, Manitoba – The Grand Rapids Griffins took out their frustrations on one of the AHL’s elite teams on Tuesday, snapping a four-game skid with a 5-1 thrashing of the Manitoba Moose at the MTS Centre.

One night after suffering a 2-0 loss to the Moose, the Griffins jumped out to a 5-0 lead before the game’s midpoint and coasted to the win, just their fourth in the last 19 games. Led by Drew MacIntyre’s 35-save performance, Grand Rapids handed Manitoba its worst defeat of the season and just its twelfth regulation loss.

Grand Rapids (22-21-1-1), which remains two points behind San Antonio in fifth place in the West Division, will continue its grueling road swing this Friday with a 7:05 p.m. tilt against the Philadelphia Phantoms at the Wachovia Spectrum.

After having allowed the first goal in 14 of their previous 18 games, the Griffins took the upper hand just 2:59 into the contest. Matt Ellis lost the puck while attempting a wraparound but collected it along the goal line and spun with a shot that glanced off Alex Auld’s skate and into the cage.

The early goal was a hint of things to come, as Eric Himelfarb made it 2-0 by blistering a shot from the top of the right circle past Auld’s glove and into the upper right corner of the net at the five-minute mark. Auld, who blanked the Griffins on 18 saves last night, was summarily pulled in favor of Wade Flaherty.

The Griffins greeted the new netminder by scoring their third goal on just their sixth shot. Jiri Hudler made a fine play to keep a clearing attempt in at the blue line and fired a shot toward the net that Nathan Robinson tipped past Flaherty at 12:34. The 3-0 lead marked the Griffins’ first since their 4-0 win at Cleveland on Jan. 9.

Grand Rapids continued to pour it on after the first intermission, with Blake Sloan slamming home a rebound 6:04 into the second period and Darryl Bootland scoring on a shorthanded breakaway at 8:49. After totaling just three goals in its previous four games, Grand Rapids enjoyed its first five-goal lead since a 5-0 shutout of Cleveland on Nov. 20.

The Moose (30-12-1-5) spoiled MacIntyre’s shutout bid on Kevin Bieksa’s rebound goal at 12:21, the only surrendered by the rookie in 24 attempts over the first 40 minutes of play. He improved to 6-4-0 on the season and now owns a 1.51 GAA and a 0.952 save percentage over his last four starts.

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