11/02/2011 8:00 PM
Lake Erie Monsters 0 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 3
Nov. 2, 2011
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Joey MacDonald denied all 27 shots he faced on Wednesday to record his 19th shutout as a Griffin and his AHL-leading second whitewash of the season, a 3-0 triumph over the Lake Erie Monsters at Van Andel Arena.
MacDonald was spectacular in helping kill off four Lake Erie power plays before turning back a penalty shot attempt by Justin Mercier with 1:49 left and surviving a Patrick Bordeleau shot that rang off the right post with six seconds remaining.
The Griffins, winners of consecutive games for the first time this season, evened their record at 5-5-0-0 and leap-frogged Lake Erie (4-7-1-0), Rochester and Hamilton into second place in the North Division, just one point behind Toronto. They’ll continue their three-game homestand on Saturday at 7 p.m. with their first-ever clash against the Charlotte Checkers.
Fabian Brunnstrom, making his Griffins debut after being assigned by the Red Wings on Monday, needed only 4:09 to score his first goal for Grand Rapids. Chris Conner controlled the puck behind the Lake Erie net on a power play and deftly backhanded a pass out front for Brunnstrom, who beat Cedrick Desjardins inside the right post.
Grand Rapids went on to set a season-high for shots in a period with 17 during the opening stanza, but Desjardins kept his team’s deficit to just one goal through 20 minutes.
A scoreless middle period was highlighted by the second and third fights of the night, after Willie Coetzee and Mike Brennan had tangled briefly in the first. Greg Amadio took exception to a Bordeleau check along the boards and chased him down for a brawl, and Mitch Callahan got the best of Ben Wilson off a faceoff five minutes later.
The Griffins continued to pile up fruitless shots on Desjardins until the 11:28 mark of the third, when Coetzee won a short sprint to a loose puck between the circles and teed up a one-timer that the Lake Erie goaltender had no chance to stop. Grand Rapids’ second goal came on its 34th shot of the night.
Another beautiful play by Conner culminated in the three-goal margin for Grand Rapids with 5:13 remaining. After stickhandling through several Monsters in the right circle, he slid a pass to the goalmouth to a waiting Jamie Johnson, who redirected the puck through Desjardins’ pads.
Desjardins finished with 35 saves but could not prevent Lake Erie’s two-game winning streak from being snapped.
Notes: In addition to his league-high two shutouts, MacDonald now ranks among the AHL’s top goalies with five wins (T2nd), a 0.934 save percentage (T7th) and a 2.09 GAA (9th)…Conner has climbed into a tie for third in the AHL scoring race with 15 points (5-10—15), just one behind Toronto’s Joe Colborne and Hershey’s Keith Aucoin…Brunnstrom played on a line with fellow Swedes Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist, who was assigned to the Griffins this afternoon after making his NHL debut with the Red Wings last night.
Three Stars: 1. GR MacDonald (W, 27 saves, shutout); 2. GR Conner (two assists); 3. GR Brunnstrom (power play goal)