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Jimmy Howard stops Mikhail Grabovski in the shootout.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
– After failing to capitalize on 36 shots against Hamilton netminder Dov Grumet-Morris during regulation and overtime, the Grand Rapids Griffins scored on all four shootout attempts to take a rare 1-0 victory over the Bulldogs on Saturday at a sold-out Van Andel Arena.

Jimmy Howard made 25 saves before denying two of four shootout attempts to secure his fourth shutout of the year, the Griffins’ seventh straight victory on home ice and their ninth win in their last 10 games overall.

With the win, Grand Rapids (29-21-4-2) improved to a season-high eight games over 0.500 and moved within seven points of the third-place Bulldogs (33-20-2-3) in the North Division standings. The Griffins also pulled two points ahead of idle Iowa in the playoff race, heading into Sunday’s 4 p.m. rematch with the Bulldogs at Van Andel Arena.

The contest was highly entertaining despite the score, filled with fine saves and near-misses for each team, as well as two first-period fights involving Adam Keefe, who made his Griffins debut following Friday’s trade from Manitoba.

Each team had prime chances to score in the waning minutes as well, following a cross-checking penalty to Kip Miller with 1:55 left in regulation and former Griffin Danny Groulx’s tripping minor at 2:31 of overtime. But the penalty killers did their jobs to send the game to the shootout, where Ryan Keller, Matt Hussey, Evan McGrath and Miller all scored for Grand Rapids. The Griffins have now scored on 13 of their last 17 attempts while denying 17 of their opponents’ last 20 tries.

The game marked the Griffins’ first that was scoreless after regulation since a 0-0 tie at Houston on March 6, 2002. It was also their first 1-0 shootout win since Jan. 17, 2001 versus Manitoba, their last home game that was scoreless after 60 minutes of play.

The capacity crowd was the Griffins’ fourth this season and their third in the last seven home contests.



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