Calder Cup Champions - 2013 & 2017
AHL Affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings
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Apr 24, 2006
Written By: EdenCreative
TORONTO An Ontario homecoming for half of the Griffins traveling party instead became a celebration for Jimmy Howard and Tomas Kopecky on Monday, as the pair led Grand Rapids to a 4-1 victory over the Toronto Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum.

Howard made 35 saves in one of his most impressive outings of the year, and Kopecky scored a pair of power play goals to help the Griffins grab a two-games-to-one lead in their best-of-seven playoff series. Game 4 of the North Division Semifinals is set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Toronto.

The Griffins took the upper hand with two quick goals midway through a hard-hitting first period. From the left boards, Kent McDonell carried the puck into the slot and slid a pass to Eric Manlow, who beat Jean-Sebastien Aubin from the right side at 10:51. Kopecky potted his first goal just 45 seconds later during a goal-mouth scramble, giving the Griffins their first two-goal lead of the postseason.

Grand Rapids out-shot the Marlies 20-6 during the opening frame, tying the franchise record for shots in a playoff period while setting a new road standard.

Kopecky increased the visitors lead to 3-0 at the 15-minute mark of the middle stanza, taking a long cross-ice pass from Jiri Hudler and slamming the puck into a wide-open cage from the right circle.

A string of five Grand Rapids penalties in the first 11 minutes of the third period enabled the Marlies to climb back into the game. During a 5-on-3 Toronto power play, Alexander Suglobov ruined Howards shutout bid with a power play goal from the bottom of the right circle at 7:33. However, the rookie stopped the remainder of 19 Toronto shots he faced during the frame, as the Marlies tied a record for most shots in a period by a Griffins playoff opponent.

Nate DiCasmirro added an empty-netter at 19:35 for the final margin.

Aubin, whose all-time postseason record against Grand Rapids fell to 2-5, finished with 37 saves.