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GRIFFINS WIN BATTLE, LOSE WAR

Helm scores his second goal of the night.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Jimmy Howard celebrated his 24th birthday with 25 saves and Darren Helm tallied two goals and an assist as the Grand Rapids Griffins slew the Lake Erie Monsters by a 6-1 count on Tuesday at Van Andel Arena.

Despite climbing back to the 0.500 mark at home with one of their finest efforts of the season, the Griffins saw their playoff aspirations come to an end tonight with Syracuse’s 3-2 shootout win over Toronto. Grand Rapids, which will miss the postseason for just the third time in 12 years, will continue its three-game home stand on Friday by hosting the Milwaukee Admirals at 7 p.m.

The Griffins (28-36-2-5) dominated from the start, out-shooting the Monsters 15-3 and out-scoring them 3-0 during the opening period. Jonathan Ericsson put Grand Rapids on the board during a power play at the 5:06 mark, firing a shot from the point that Tyler Weiman seemed to have a bead on, but the puck trickled through the netminder’s five-hole.

After missing the Griffins’ last five games while on recall to Detroit, Helm announced his return with another power play goal at 11:25, taking a cross-ice pass from Carl Corazzini and slamming a shot into a gaping net from the right side.

Mark O’Leary pushed the advantage to three with 5:58 remaining in the frame. Ryan Oulahen threw a shot on goal from the left boards that Weiman couldn’t control, and a net-crashing O’Leary jammed the loose puck across the line.

The Monsters (25-34-5-7) trimmed their deficit with a 5-on-3 tally 10:45 into the middle frame. Howard made a pair of saves before Chris Stewart popped the second rebound home from the left circle.

Grand Rapids quickly re-established its three-goal lead, however, as Evan McGrath capitalized on a Monster miscue at center ice to poke the puck free and break in alone. McGrath faked to his forehand before slipping a backhand through Weiman’s pads at 13:52, but before he could even raise his arms in celebration, he was driven into the end boards by Dale Purinton. The dirty hit drew a pugilistic response from Kyle Quincey - but no penalty from the referee – resulting in a bout that marked the end of each player’s night.

Lake Erie was awarded another two-man advantage early in the third period, but it was the Griffins who earned the right to celebrate. Rushing into the Monsters’ zone on a 2-on-1, Corazzini sent a pass from the right boards into the slot to an uncovered Helm, who tallied his second goal at 6:51. Randall Gelech accounted for the final margin at 17:12, planting himself in the crease and chipping a rebound past Weiman for the Griffins’ third power play marker in seven tries.

Helm notched his second straight three-point outing as a Griffin, while Corazzini (three assists), Ericsson (one goal, one assist), Oulahen and Stafford (two assists each) also enjoyed multiple-point nights. Howard, who rejoined the Griffins earlier today on assignment from Detroit, was again recalled by the Red Wings after the game.

Weiman fell to 0-2 against Grand Rapids this season, finishing with 25 stops.


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