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GRIFFINS MUZZLE DOGS TO ADVANCE


HAMILTON, Ontario – The Grand Rapids Griffins claimed their first playoff series win since 2006 with a convincing 4-1 victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs on Sunday at Copps Coliseum, winning the series four games to two to advance to the North Division Finals against the Manitoba Moose.

Ville Leino enjoyed a four-point night, including an empty-net goal with 38 seconds left, and Jimmy Howard finished with 22 saves as the Griffins shrugged off an early Hamilton goal to claim their first playoff series ever as the lower seed.

The Griffins will continue their quest for the Calder Cup with Games 1 and 2 at the MTS Centre this Friday, May 1 and Saturday, May 2 at 8:30 EDT each night. The best-of-seven series will then shift to Van Andel Arena for Games 3-5 on Monday, May 4, Wednesday, May 6 and Friday, May 8 (if necessary).

The home squad couldn’t have asked for a better start, as Greg Stewart drove the net to tip J.T. Wyman’s centering feed past Howard just nine seconds into the contest. But an ill-advised roughing penalty on Yanick Lehoux exactly four minutes later gave the Griffins two full minutes of 5-on-3 power play time, an opportunity they didn’t let go to waste. Brian Lashoff’s shot rang off the right post behind Marc Denis, but the rebound came out to Darren Haydar on the left side for an easy goal into a wide-open net at 5:25.

Early in the second period, a seemingly harmless 45-foot shot by Justin Abdelkader turned into his AHL-high sixth goal of the playoffs and the eventual game-winner. Abdelkader chased down a pass from Leino in the high slot, turned and flung the puck on goal, where it slipped through Denis’ five hole at the 4:18 mark.

Grand Rapids maintained its one-goal margin until only 6:15 remained in the game, when a brilliant play by Cory Emmerton gave the Griffins a 3-1 advantage. Batting a puck down in the slot, he slipped around a pair of Bulldogs defenders and sniped a shot into the top left corner of the cage. Combined with Leino’s empty-netter, the Griffins scored on their only two shots of the period while holding the desperate Bulldogs to just three shots of their own.

Three Stars: 1. GR Leino (goal, three assists); 2. GR Abdelkader (game-winning goal); 3. GR Haydar (power play goal, assist)
 

Griffins Game Rewind
WOOD Radio Highlights: 1 2 3
Post-Game Sound Bites: 1 2 3 4
Official Game Report


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