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IM-PEKKA-BLE PERFORMANCE

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Fresh off his Game 1 shutout, Pekka Rinne stopped 41 shots on Saturday to lead the Milwaukee Admirals to a 2-1 win over the Grand Rapids Griffins and a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals.

The Griffins out-shot the Admirals 42-25 but surrendered a pair of shorthanded goals and were unable to capitalize on 10 power play chances. They’ll now set their sights on joining 17 teams in AHL history that have won a best-of-seven series when trailing 0-2, including five teams – most recently Wilkes-Barre over Bridgeport in this year’s East Division Semifinals – that accomplished the feat after dropping the first two games on home ice.

The series shifts to the western shores of Lake Michigan for the next two contests, beginning with Monday’s Game 3 at the Bradley Center. The game will be televised live throughout Michigan on Comcast Local at 8 p.m. EDT.

Despite being outplayed in the early going, the Admirals struck first 7:59 into the contest. Finishing off a shorthanded break, Kevin Klein found a loose puck outside the crease and snuck a shot under the arm of a sprawled Jimmy Howard.

The Griffins got it back just as their power play expired, however, as Tomas Kopecky gathered a rebound in the slot, spun and slipped a backhand through Rinne’s five-hole at the 8:53 mark. Grand Rapids then appeared to take the upper hand at 12:26 on a backhanded wraparound by Matt Ellis, but the goal was waived off by the referee.

Early in the middle frame, Milwaukee bagged its second shortie of the night to take a 2-1 lead. Seconds after Jordin Tootoo was sprung from the penalty box to end a 5-on-3 Griffins advantage, he took a feed from former Griffin Sheldon Brookbank at center ice and burst in alone on Howard, beating him high on the glove side with a wicked wrist shot at 2:30.

Grand Rapids received a break with three minutes left in the period, when a goaltender interference call against Simon Gamache negated an Admirals goal. The Griffins, though, remained victimized by Rinne’s fine glovework, keeping it a one-goal deficit after 40 minutes. Grand Rapids out-shot Milwaukee 20-7 during the second to tie a franchise record for shots in a playoff period, while Rinne’s 20 saves were the most ever for an opposing netminder during a playoff stanza.

The Griffins continued to pour it on in the third, to the tune of an 11-5 count in shots, but they could not get the equalizer past Rinne. His counterpart Howard finished with 23 saves and was instrumental in helping deny the Admirals on seven power play opportunities.

Milwaukee’s two shorthanded goals were the most ever allowed by the Griffins at home, during either the regular season or playoffs, and tied an overall franchise record. Chicago scored two at Allstate Arena in Game 1 of the Turner Cup Finals on May 26, 2000, and Hamilton logged a pair – including one into an empty net – on Jan. 4 of this year at Copps Coliseum.

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