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HARTIGAN, HOWARD HOG HEADLINES


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Mark Hartigan scored twice and added an assist and Jimmy Howard came within 20 seconds of a shutout as the Grand Rapids Griffins rolled to a 3-1 win over the Rochester Americans on Friday at Van Andel Arena.

With the 500th regular season win in franchise history (500-328-27-17-61), Grand Rapids moved within one point of third-place Syracuse in the race for a guaranteed playoff spot in the North Division.

Having earned points in five of their last six games (3-1-0-2) and back-to-back wins for the first time since Dec. 12-14, the Griffins will face the best team in the Western Conference on Sunday when they travel to Chicago for a 4 p.m. EST clash with the Wolves.

Both of Hartigan’s goals came within a span of 2:04 during the opening period, giving the Griffins all the offense they would need. At the 6:51 mark, he collected a rebound of Garrett Stafford’s shot on the doorstep and slipped the puck past Tyler Plante on his second try. On his line’s next shift, Carl Corazzini controlled a loose puck behind the Rochester net, skated out of the left corner and sent a pass across to Hartigan, who slammed a shot home from the right circle at 8:55.

Hartigan flirted with the hat trick several times during the second period before earning an assist with 1:01 left in the frame, as Jamie Tardif scored on the power play during a goal-mouth scrum to make it a 3-0 game through 40 minutes.

Howard, now 14-5-1 this season when his teammates score at least two goals, saw his bid for an 11th career shutout end with just 19.4 ticks remaining in the game. He stopped David Brine’s tip of a slap shot from the point, but Franklin MacDonald found the puck to the left of the net and banked it off Howard for the visitors’ lone tally in 23 attempts on the night.

Grand Rapids (17-19-2-5) returned 41 shots on Plante, who finished with 38 saves for Rochester (12-27-2-3).


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