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GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 3 at Oklahoma City Barons 2 SO

Oct. 22, 2011

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Grand Rapids Griffins evened their season series with the Oklahoma City Barons at one win apiece as they skated out 3-2 victors from Cox Convention Center on Saturday night after a nine-round shootout was ended by Brendan Smith.

The Griffins, now 3-3-0-0 on the season, found their offense in recent call-up Andrej Nestrasil, as the young forward set up a goal and bagged another. Joey MacDonald made the tallies stand up with 33 saves on 35 shots before steering aside eight of nine in the shootout. David LeNeveu made 36 saves on 38 shots while taking the loss for an Oklahoma City team that now stands at 4-1-0-1 this year.

The Griffins had MacDonald to thank 3:35 into the opening stanza when the Griffins goaltender made a sprawling glove save on Teemu Hartikainen, who had the goal at his mercy. MacDonald then made a string of saves as the Griffins killed off 1:31 of a five-on-three Barons' power play. As the odd-man advantage expired, Doug Janik stepped out of the penalty box and into the play where he picked up a loose puck and came in on a breakaway, only to be denied by LeNeveu.

The Griffins drew a power play of their own at 14:18 but were unable to turn the man advantage into a lead on the scoreboard. The power play did give the Griffins an impetus to attack, and though they spent the rest of the period dictating the play, they would enter the first intermission in a scoreless tie.

Two more power play opportunities came and went for the Griffins in the first six minutes of the middle frame, but the chances created by the Griffins kept them on the front foot and their continued offensive play finally brought its reward. With 4:15 left to play in the period, Nestrasil found Brent Raedeke, who tapped home for his first goal of the season.

Before the period expired, Nestrasil, playing in only his second game for Grand Rapids this season, finally broke the Griffins zero-for-twenty six power play skid at 18:33 when he collected a rebound from Joakim Andersson’s blast and buried a back-hander to put his team up 2-0 heading into the final period.

Midway through the third, the Barons turned the game on its head when Hartikainen forced home a wrap-around attempt while on the power play at 12:46. Oklahoma City grabbed the tying goal a minute and thirty seconds later when Ryan O’Marra flipped his own rebound home from point blank range to send the game into overtime.

The teams traded chances for a game winner in the extra period, with the Griffins spurning the best of the opportunities. In the shootout, it was MacDonald who gave his team five consecutive chances to take the two points and Smith came through with a low stick-side snap shot in the ninth round to put a notch in the win column for Grand Rapids.

The Griffins will complete their current five-game road trip Sunday evening in Houston against the Aeros, who are 3-1-0-2 on the season. The puck is scheduled to drop at 6:05 p.m.  EDT. The Griffins return to the friendly confines of Van Andel Arena for their second home game of the season this Friday night when the Abbotsford Heat come to town.

Notes: Sebastien Piche played his first game for the Griffins this season, recording a five minute major penalty for fighting…Joey MacDonald surpassed Jimmy Howard as the Griffins’ all-time leader in minutes (10675:01) and saves (4,852).

Three Stars:1. GR Nestrasil (goal and assist); 2. OKC LeNeveu (L, 36 saves); 3. OKC O’Marra (tying goal)

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