GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – When the Griffins and Marlies met two weeks ago at Van Andel Arena, Toronto ended a seven-game winless streak with a three-goal win over Grand Rapids. The Griffins returned the favor on Friday, snapping their own seven-game skid with a 6-3 victory at home over the Marlies.
Patrick Rissmiller scored twice on the power play to lead an attack that went 3-for-5 and paced Grand Rapids to its first win since a 3-1 triumph over Hamilton on Jan. 16. The Griffins (22-27-0-1), who moved into a tie with Toronto (18-23-5-4) for sixth place in the North Division, will try to earn back-to-back wins for the first time since Dec. 9-11 on Saturday when they host the Houston Aeros at 7 p.m.
John Vigilante scored just 2:34 into the contest to give the Griffins their first home lead in a span of 236:36 and their first lead in any game in 416:36, with both streaks stretching back to the first period of their Jan. 17 contest versus Rockford. Jamie Tardif stole the puck on the forecheck and put a quick shot on net that Joey MacDonald turned aside, but Vigilante stuffed home the rebound at the right post.
Mattias Ritola made it 2-0 with a power play goal at 11:58, deking MacDonald before lifting a pretty shot inside the left post. Just 1:48 later, Doug Janik connected on a slap shot from the left point to stake Grand Rapids to its first three-goal lead since Jan. 8 and its first such advantage on home ice since Dec. 5.
The onslaught continued during a 5-on-3 power play at 16:38 when Rissmiller slipped a backhand inside the right post, giving the Griffins as many goals – four, on 12 shots – as the Marlies had shots.
Following a scoreless middle period, the Marlies climbed back into the contest by scoring a pair of goals within a 56-second span early in the third. Taking advantage of a turnover in the Griffins’ zone, Ashton Rome connected from the hashmarks at 4:12, and former Griffin Ben Simon converted a centering pass at 5:08 to make it a 4-2 contest.
Grand Rapids called timeout to settle the troops, a tactic that seemed to work until Greg Scott finished off a Toronto rush by potting Viktor Stalberg’s feed at the 11:17 mark, cutting the Marlies’ deficit to a single goal. Shortly thereafter, the Griffins were awarded 1:13 of a two-man advantage, and they pushed their lead back to two with just four seconds remaining in the second Toronto penalty, when Rissmiller notched his second of the night into the top right corner at 14:45.
Cory Emmerton added an empty netter from just outside the blue line with 1:11 remaining for the final margin.
Making his Van Andel Arena debut on a conditioning assignment from the Detroit Red Wings, defenseman Andreas Lilja went scoreless and finished the night with an even rating.
Daniel Larsson stopped 19-of-22 shots to earn his 14th win of the season and 36th of his Griffins career, moving past Pokey Reddick into sole possession of sixth place on Grand Rapids’ all-time list. MacDonald, the former Griffin, finished with 27 saves to drop to 1-2 this season against his old teammates.
Three Stars: 1. GR Rissmiller (two power play goals); 2. GR Vigilante (goal); 3. GR Emmerton (goal, assist)