Lake Erie Monsters 7 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 2
March 18, 2011
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Pundits wondered whether Friday’s rare “super full moon” would cause any strange happenings or behavior. They needed to look no further than Van Andel Arena for their answer, as the Grand Rapids Griffins saw their AHL-best eight-game point streak snapped with a 7-2 loss to the Lake Erie Monsters.
The two teams entered the night in a deadlock for fourth place in the North Division, just two points out of a playoff spot, with the Griffins riding a five-game winning streak on home ice. But it was the visitors who claimed that coveted piece of third, thanks to their five-goal second period and Toronto’s 1-0 loss at Syracuse.
Grand Rapids (33-26-2-8) will look to resume its winning ways on Saturday, when it continues its 4-in-5 week and 3-in-3 weekend at home with a 7 p.m. faceoff against the Rochester Americans.
Lake Erie (35-25-3-5) struck for the first period’s lone goal at 6:37. After Matthew Ford deflected Julien Brouillette’s shot from the left side, the bouncing puck couldn’t be corralled by either defenseman Greg Amadio or goaltender Jordan Pearce, enabling Justin Mercier to sweep in and lift it over the prone Pearce.
The Monsters made it a 2-0 game just 50 ticks into the second period. Pearce made the initial stop on Cameron Gaunce’s redirection of Matt Generous’ blast from the point, but Ben Walter was waiting to pop the rebound into a yawning cage. Soon after, Travis Gawryletz one-timed David Van der Gulik’s drop pass from just inside the blueline, giving the visitors a three-goal cushion at the 4:15 mark.
The Griffins finally got on the board at 9:07 of the frame. A shot by Jamie Tardif rang off the iron, but Tomas Tatar beat his defender to the puck in the right circle and quickly whipped it past Jason Bacashihua. During a power play just 1:29 later, Francis Pare worked a slick give-and-go with Ilari Filppula and snapped a shot home from the slot to pull the Griffins within 3-2. The goal was Pare’s 63rd as a Griffin, tying him with current Chicago Blackhawk Tomas Kopecky for eighth place on the franchise’s all-time list.
Lake Erie’s Harrison Reed quickly stopped the Griffins’ momentum, stealing the puck at the Monsters’ blue line, streaking down the ice on a breakaway and shelving a backhand at 11:38. Greg Mauldin then tallied Lake Erie’s fourth and fifth goals of the period at 15:42 and 17:56, the latter during a power play, putting the Monsters ahead 6-2 at the second intermission.
Julian Talbot scored a fourth unanswered goal for Lake Erie during a power play with 5:40 left in the third, accounting for the final margin and marking the most goals allowed by the Griffins at home this season.
Pearce, who had compiled an impeccable 10-1-1-3 record over his previous 15 games, made 20 saves while suffering his first regulation loss since Feb. 26 at Lake Erie. Bacashihua, meanwhile, turned aside 23 shots to improve his personal record against the Griffins this season to 4-0-1.
Note: Rookie Griffins defenseman Brendan Smith left the game due to a lower-body injury late in the first period and did not return. Early indications are that he could miss at least two weeks.
Three Stars: 1. LE Walter (goal, three assists); 2. LE Van der Gulik (three assists); 3. LE Mauldin (two goals)