11/22/2005 10:49 PM
After scoring just three goals over his first 15 games, center Donald MacLean buried three in a single night posting his third career AHL hat trick and first as a Griffin in a 4-2 Grand Rapids win over the Manitoba Moose at MTS Centre Tuesday night.
A scoreless first period showcased the talents of two veteran leaders for the Griffins. Goaltender Joey MacDonald made several sensational saves, while defenseman Travis Richards played brilliantly in his own zone and on the penalty kill with timely poke-checks, blocked shots, and by clearing the puck when the team needed it most.
The Griffins second period attack was relentless, producing two key goals as they out-shot the Moose 18-5 in the frame.
Valtteri Filppula was in on the act again, helping jump-start the Griffins power play in the second, and extending his team-leading scoring streak to five games. After a hard shot from the left point by Kyle Quincey, Filppula knocked the puck away from Manitoba netminder Rob McVicar, where defenseman Nick Martens chopped away until banking a shot in off McVicars back.
Donald MacLean then found his scoring touch, registering the first of his three strikes on a solid individual effort. The center followed up his own shot in the slot, carrying the rebound to his left and lifting a wrister past McVicar at 7:40 of the period to make it 2-0 at the second intermission.
A wide-open third period saw Manitoba break back into the game on the first of two Jesse Schultz tallies with 13:01 remaining. Schultz broke away from Michael Hackert in the slot, proceeding to beat MacDonald between the pads to cut the Griffins lead in half.
Grand Rapids answered with the first of two suitable-for-framing dishes from Nate DiCasmirro to MacLean at 10:45, a soft saucer from right to left that found the tape of MacLeans stick at the edge of the circle.
The Moose again refused to surrender, as Schultz stationed himself at the bottom of the right circle in front of MacDonald and flung a rebound into a yawning net for a 3-2 margin with 3:13 left.
MacLean delivered the dagger less than a minute later, redirecting a silky DiCasmirro pass from the left corner for the derby-maker and a 4-2 Griffins triumph. It was the Sydney, Nova Scotia natives first three-goal performance in nearly five years to the day (for St. Johns vs. Hamilton 11/24/00).
Grand Rapids improves to 14-3-0-1 with their eighth victory in nine games, good for a seven point edge over Manitoba in the North Division with a game in hand. The two teams will do battle again Wednesday night at MTS Centre, with faceoff slated for 8:30 p.m. ET.