Rochester Americans 4 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 5
March 4, 2011
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A well-balanced offensive attack staked the Grand Rapids Griffins to leads of 4-0 and 5-1 on Friday before they held on for a 5-4 victory over the Rochester Americans in front of a crowd of 9,055 at Van Andel Arena.
Thirteen Griffins registered points, including every forward except Adam Keefe, as Grand Rapids pushed its season-high home point streak to five games (4-0-0-1) and improved to 5-1-0-2 in its last eight games overall.
With the win, the Griffins (28-25-1-8) leap-frogged over the Amerks (29-28-3-3) into sixth place in the North Division. Grand Rapids will look to sweep the two-game set on Saturday in a 7 p.m. start at Van Andel Arena.
Brandon Straub was in the right place at the right time to notch his third goal of the season 13:29 into the opening period. From below the goal line, Joakim Andersson flipped the puck out front, where it hit Straub’s leg just outside the paint and deflected inside Tyler Plante’s left post.
Plante allowed another goal he’d like back with 1:13 remaining in the frame. Jamie Johnson dropped a pass inside the blue line to Chris Minard, whose innocent-looking slap shot from above the right circle snuck through Plante’s pads and trickled over the line to give the Griffins a 2-0 lead.
A scary injury to Jordan Owens occurred early in the second period, as he broke his right humerus bone (upper arm) crashing into the end boards. He attempted to skate off the ice with assistance until the pain overcame him in front of the Griffins’ bench, and paramedics were summoned to take him off on a stretcher.
The Griffins quickly collected themselves and continued their offensive onslaught during a 5-on-3 power play, as Ilari Filppula connected from the right circle at the 6:15 mark. Jamie Tardif pushed the advantage to 4-0 at 12:10, roofing a shot from the left side off a deft centering feed from Tomas Tatar. The goal, Tardif’s team-leading 23rd of the campaign, gave him sole possession of third place on the franchise’s all-time goals list with 74, one more than Derek King and one behind Kip Miller.
Oddly, the Amerks replaced Plante with Marc Cheverie for all of 14 seconds before reinserting Plante during a stoppage. Then, during a power play with 1:58 left in the period, a pair of former Griffins joined forces to solve Jordan Pearce, as Patrick Rissmiller fed Clay Wilson for a blast from the left circle.
Grand Rapids responded with its own power play goal 2:12 into the third, when Brendan Smith’s cannon from the point caromed off an Amerks defender on its way into the net, making it a 5-1 game.
Rochester made it all too interesting down the stretch, getting goals from P.J. Fenton at 10:00, Triston Grant at 16:36 and A.J. Jenks at 17:18 to pull within one, but Smith’s tally would eventually hold up as the game-winner.
Pearce improved to 9-3-0-4 in his last 16 decisions by making 23 stops, while Plante finished with 20 saves for the Americans, who saw their five-game point streak (4-0-0-1) snapped while suffering just their second regulation loss in their last 11 outings (8-2-0-1).
Notes: Keefe appeared in his 200th AHL game, the first of Johnson's two assists was his 300th as a pro, and Greg Amadio surpassed the 1,000-penalty minute mark for his AHL career (1,006)...The Griffins’ record is three games over 0.500 for the first time since Nov. 17 (8-5-0-3)…Another triumph over Rochester on Saturday would give Grand Rapids its first three-game winning streak since Dec. 5-11, 2009.
Three Stars: 1. GR Johnson (two assists); 2. RCH Jenks (goal, assist); 3. GR Smith (game-winning goal)