GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins’ top-rated penalty killers, who had allowed only three goals in 73 opponent power play attempts over their previous 19 games, surrendered three goals to the Lake Erie Monsters’ bottom-ranked power play unit on Saturday en route to a 4-1 defeat at Van Andel Arena.
The Monsters finished 3-for-6 with the man-advantage – after scoring just twice in 35 tries over their preceding eight games – to snap Grand Rapids’ season-high nine-game point streak. The Griffins suffered just their second regulation loss in their last 16 games overall (11-2-2-1) and their last 17 contests at home (12-2-2-1).
With only 10 of its final 29 games to be played at Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids (31-10-6-4) will begin a five-game, 11-day road trip on Sunday with a 4 p.m. visit to Toronto.
In the waning moments of the first period, the Griffins took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play to jump on top, as Darren Haydar connected on a rocket from the point at the 19:35 mark. With the goal, Haydar became the 73rd player in AHL history and the only active player in the league to reach 500 points for his AHL career. He joined former Griffins Mark Greig, Michel Picard and Jeff Nelson as members of the league’s 500-point club.
The Monsters (21-24-1-5) controlled the play for most of the middle frame and finally broke through Jimmy Howard on their 20th shot of the game at 14:02. With Lake Erie on the power play, T.J. Galiardi took a shot from the right that Howard seemed to have under control, but it managed to trickle through his pads and over the line to knot the score. The Monsters’ struggling power play struck again with 27 seconds left in the period, as Bryan Marshall sent a pass through the crease to Chris Durno for an easy tap-in from the left side, giving the visitors a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.
The Monsters scored two goals in the opening minutes of the third period to take a commanding three-goal lead. Off a turnover in the Grand Rapids zone, Philippe Dupuis snapped a shot through Howard’s pads at 3:54, then Matt Hendricks deflected Mike Vernace’s long-range shot at 5:52 for Lake Erie’s third power play goal of the night.
The Griffins had a chance to cut into the Monsters’ lead thanks to a full two-minute, two-man advantage late in the period, but Lake Erie held firm to match Grand Rapids’ largest margin of defeat this season.
Tyler Weiman prevailed over Howard in a battle of the AHL’s fifth and sixth-ranked netminders. Weiman denied 28 of the Griffins’ 29 shots, and Howard stopped 36 while facing 40 or more shots for the third time in his last four outings.
Three Stars: 1. LE Weiman (W, 28 saves); 2. LE Dupuis (goal, assist); 3. GR Haydar (PP goal, 500th AHL point)