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HOWIE DOES IT

Mark Hartigan finds the back of the net during the first period.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – In his first game back from injury, AHL All-Star netminder Jimmy Howard made 27 saves and stopped all five shootout attempts to lead the Grand Rapids Griffins to 4-3 come-from-behind win over the Rochester Americans on Wednesday at Van Andel Arena.

Rallying in the third to take a 3-2 lead, Grand Rapids surrendered a goal with just 30 seconds left in regulation but rebounded in the shootout. Mark Cullen’s lone tally was enough for the Griffins, who earned points for the fourth time in their last five games (2-1-0-2).

The Griffins (16-19-2-5) and Amerks (12-26-2-3) will stage a rematch at Van Andel Arena on Friday at 7 p.m., featuring a pre-game autograph session with Detroit Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge and the debut of Dollar Dogs/Dollar Beers.

After missing the better part of three games, Howard announced his return with a flourish 13 minutes into the contest, stoning Mark Mancari on a breakaway attempt. His teammates took advantage of that stop by grabbing the upper hand during a power play with 4:06 remaining in the period. Mark Hartigan carried the puck into the Rochester zone, passed to Jonathan Ericsson in the left circle, then crashed the net to deflect Ericsson’s return feed past Adam Dennis.

That advantage was short-lived, however, as the Americans capitalized at the 19:31 mark during a 5-on-3 power play, with Stefan Meyer tipping home Marc-Andre Gragnani’s slap shot.

Midway through the middle period, just 31 seconds after the Griffins had squandered a five-minute power play, Meyer netted his second of the night to give the visitors a 2-1 lead. He won a race for a puck that had slid the length of the ice, collecting the carom off the end boards at the left hashmarks and quickly putting a shot behind Howard at 9:13.

Grand Rapids netted the equalizer 1:32 into period three, as Carl Corazzini took a pass from Cullen out of the left corner and ripped a shot inside the right post from the high slot. Exactly seven minutes later, the Griffins pulled ahead at 3-2 when Jakub Kindl’s laser from the left point found the top left corner of Dennis’ cage.

With Rochester having pulled its goalie and the Griffins clinging to that one-goal lead in the final minute, Howard made three consecutive saves in traffic before an unchallenged Mancari finally potted a shot from the slot to extend matters.

Dennis suffered the shootout loss after making 25 saves and stopping three of four in the skills competition.


Griffins Game Rewind
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Post-Game Sound Bites: 1 2 3
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