01/14/2005 9:46 PM
- GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
A determined effort by the Grand Rapids Griffins fell short on Friday due to an outstanding performance by NHL veteran Jean-Sebastien Aubin, who made 47 saves to backstop the St. Johns Maple Leafs to a 3-2 win at Van Andel Arena.
The Griffins 49 shots, their most in a game since March 23, 2002, were not enough to prevent their record-tying sixth consecutive loss on home ice. Theyll continue a three-game homestand on Saturday when they welcome the defending Calder Cup champion Milwaukee Admirals to town for the first time this season. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.
Grand Rapids (19-16-1-1) took the play to the Leafs during a scoreless opening period, outshooting them to the tune of 17-9. Aubin, who had stoned Eric Manlow on a shorthanded opportunity during the first period, repeated his brickwork three minutes into the second by denying an unmarked Peter Vandermeer from point-blank range.
Six minutes in, just after the Maple Leafs somehow managed to keep a Griffins chance from entering Aubins vacated net, a St. Johns rush the other way was thwarted by a fine left pad save by Drew MacIntyre. He was not so fortunate at the nine-minute mark, however, as Nathan Perrott slipped a rebound beneath him to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
That goal, which snapped MacIntyres shutout streak at 109:24, marked the sixth consecutive first-goal scored by a visiting team at Van Andel Arena. The Leafs (25-12-0-1) added to their advantage during a power play at 13:20, as Brendan Bell fired a rocket over MacIntyres shoulder from the top of the circles.
The two-goal cushion lasted 38 seconds, until Todd Robinson scored early during a Griffins power play. Taking a pass below the left circle, Robinson took a quick shot that hit the far post and bounced back to him behind Aubin, enabling him to tap the puck into an open cage. Less than three minutes later, two of the AHLs top snipers capitalized on a 4-on-4 to give St. Johns a 3-1 lead, with Kyle Wellwood making a nifty move to convert a feed from David Ling at 16:14.
The Griffins pulled back within one at 10:28 of the third, when captain Blake Sloan won a race to a rebound at the right hashmarks and popped a shot past Aubin inside the right post. The chances kept coming for the Griffins, but a Kip Miller break ended in an uncalled trip, and less than a minute later Aubin sprawled along the goal line to keep another attempt out. The netminders glove robbed Darryl Bootlands shot from the slot with 2:04 remaining, and the Leafs held on for the win.
MacIntyre suffered the hard-luck defeat for the Griffins despite 33 saves, as St. Johns claimed its fifth straight victory.