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HIGH ON THE HOG


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
– Daniel Larsson made 30 saves and came within 58 seconds of a shutout on Wednesday, as the Grand Rapids Griffins skated to a 3-1 victory over the Rockford IceHogs at Van Andel Arena.

Holding a 2-0 lead entering the third period, the Griffins killed off four consecutive IceHogs power plays to keep the visitors scoreless, but Jack Skille scored during a flurry with an extra attacker out at the 19:02 mark to end Larsson’s bid at a franchise record-tying sixth shutout. Ryan Oulahen then scored into the empty net with 13 seconds remaining for the final margin.

The Griffins (36-15-6-6), who closed within three points of first-place Manitoba in the North Division race, will have little time to enjoy the win, as they’ll fly to Houston tomorrow morning and face the Aeros in an 8:05 p.m. EST start at the Toyota Center.

Grand Rapids came out flying in the early going, outshooting the IceHogs to the tune of 10-2 before scoring the game’s first goal 6:56 into the opening period. Evan McGrath chased down the puck behind the Rockford net and quickly sent a pass out front to Francis Pare, who rifled a shot over Corey Crawford’s glove from the slot. With the goal, Pare joined teammate Justin Abdelkader as one of six rookies in franchise history to pot 20 goals.

Fresh off his Monday reassignment from the Detroit Red Wings, Ville Leino announced his return by scoring a power play goal at 8:18 of the second period. Taking a pass from Darren Haydar, Leino snapped a shot past a screened Crawford from the top of the left circle to give the Griffins a two-goal advantage.

Midway through the third period, the Griffins were whistled for three consecutive minor penalties in a span of 4:43, but their penalty killers did a masterful job of keeping the visitors off the board before Skille scored late to make matters interesting.

Crawford finished with 36 saves for Rockford (32-25-0-5), which narrowly avoided its first shutout loss of the season. The Griffins completed their season series against the IceHogs with a 3-0-1-0 record.

Three Stars: 1. GR Larsson (W, 30 saves); 2. GR Leino (power play goal); 3. GR Pare (goal)
 

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