TORONTO – For the third time in as many nights, the Grand Rapids Griffins found themselves trailing entering the third period. This time, the Griffins made sure that they completed the comeback when Ryan Oulahen and Justin Abdelkader scored third-period goals to lead the Griffins to a 5-4 win over the Toronto Marlies at the Ricoh Coliseum.
Oulahen scored twice and recorded one assist in the game, while both Garrett Stafford and Darren Haydar tallied three helpers in the winning effort. Haydar now has four goals and nine assists during a six-game point streak. Daniel Larsson snapped a personal three-game losing streak with 28 saves, while Justin Pogge started for the Marlies and made nine saves.
After some good work on the point, Oulahen put the Griffins (35-15-6-6) ahead 1-0 with his power-play goal 7:44 into the game. Stafford and Haydar worked the puck from left to right along the blue line and then fed Oulahen, who walked in from the right boards and buried a wrist shot from the slot. With 2:44 remaining in the first period, Anton Deveaux charged the Griffin goal and the rebound of a Boyd Devereaux shot went off his skate and in the net to tie the game at 1-1.
Grand Rapids went to 2-for-2 on the power play with Evan McGrath’s goal 2:18 into the second period. Once again, Stafford and Haydar worked the puck along the point during the man-advantage. Haydar rocketed a shot that Pogge saved, but McGrath corralled the rebound in close on the right side and scored to make it 2-1. Just 1:24 after that, Francis Pare scored on a sharp-angle shot from the left side that spelled the end of the day for Pogge. McGrath recorded an assist on the goal, extending his streak to three games.
The Marlies (30-23-2-5) got in on the power-play scoring with Anton Stralman’s goal 6:52 into the second stanza with an assist to Jiri Tlusty. Stralman and Tlusty hooked up for Stralman’s second power-play goal of the game during a 5-on-3 advantage just over halfway through the middle period. Toronto’s third power-play goal of the period came from Deveaux and gave the Marlies their first lead of the day with 1:30 remaining in the second.
The Griffins got off to a good start in the third period when Oulahen scored his second goal of the game 36 seconds into the stanza. Oulahen let a wrist shot go from the left side that slipped between the left post and new goalie Adam Munro and tied the game 4-4. Oulahen almost had the hat trick at the 11:44 mark of the third period, but Munro turned his chance aside. That did not stop the Griffins from scoring though, as Abdelkader put Grand Rapids up 5-4 on the rebound, making the Griffins 3-for-3 with the man-advantage up to that point and marking the final goal of the night.
Three Stars: 1. GR Oulahen (2 goals, assist); 2. TOR Stralman (2 goals); 3. GR Stafford (3 assists)