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ON THEIR BEST BEHAVIOR


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The first penalty-free game in Griffins history and the AHL’s first in one year and a day saw Grand Rapids sweep its weekend set against the Toronto Marlies by a 3-2 count on Saturday at Van Andel Arena.

Darren Helm, Ville Leino and Darren Haydar each authored two-point nights to help Grand Rapids (40-18-6-6) reach the 40-win mark for the first time since the 2005-06 campaign.

After completing their five-game homestand before their third-straight sellout crowd of 10,834, the Griffins will commence a franchise-record eight-game road trip with a 5 p.m. tilt against the Lake Erie Monsters on Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena.

In another tight-checking affair, the Griffins broke open a scoreless game with two second-period goals, both of which were sparked by Helm’s playmaking. Midway into the frame, he won a fight for the puck in the left corner and, from his belly, sent a pass into the slot to Darren McCarty. McCarty spun and fired a shot that was turned aside by Adam Munro, but Ryan Oulahen was waiting on the right side to pot his 19th goal of the season at the 9:05 mark.

Less than six minutes later, Helm drove down the right side and centered a pass that was tipped by Haydar on its way to  Leino, who popped the puck into a yawning cage from the left side at 14:46.

The Marlies finally solved Daniel Larsson six minutes into the third period, when Jiri Tlusty’s wrist shot from the left circle eluded the netminder’s glove. Grand Rapids pushed its lead back to two goals on an empty-net tally by Haydar with 59.2 seconds remaining, before Bates Battaglia’s desperation heave with 20 ticks left deflected off Jakub Kindl’s stick and past Larsson, resulting in the final margin.

Larsson made 24 saves to earn his 22nd victory of the season, climbing into a tie for eighth place on the Griffins’ single-season wins list, while Munro stopped 35-of-37 in defeat.

The Griffins’ last penalty-free game was on Jan. 4, 2008 at Hamilton. Tonight also marked the first time ever that Grand Rapids’ opponent either played penalty free or was not put in a penalty-killing situation. Jeff Smith, meanwhile, became the first AHL referee to give his whistle the night off since Bob Langdon officiated a well-behaved Lake Erie/Toronto matchup on March 20, 2008.

Three Stars: 1. GR Leino (goal, assist); 2. GR Haydar (goal, assist); 3. TOR Tlusty (goal)
 

Griffins Game Rewind
WOOD Radio Highlights: 1 2 3
Post-Game Sound Bites: 1 2 3
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