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GRIFFINS CRUSH CLEVELAND, 5-0

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. – The Grand Rapids Griffins finished their four games in five nights with a flourish on Saturday, skating to a 5-0 win over the Cleveland Barons at Van Andel Arena.

Two goals by Matt Ellis and a perfect 33-save performance by Joey MacDonald powered the Griffins to their third win of the week and improved their overall record to 10-4-1-0, tying for the second-most wins and points (21) they’ve ever had after 15 games.

The Griffins will begin another four-game gauntlet on Wednesday, when they travel to Anaheim, Calif., to face the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks. Game time at the Arrowhead Pond is set for 10:30 p.m. EST.

Grand Rapids scored three times in the opening frame to seize command. Nathan Robinson got things started at 8:40, shaking a defender in the left circle and sending a pass for a streaking Eric Himelfarb. The puck never reached its intended target, instead deflecting off a Barons defenseman and past an unsuspecting Dimitri Patzold.

Minutes later, with the Griffins a man short, Cleveland’s Tomas Plihal was pulled down by Travis Richards and awarded a penalty shot, the first either for or against Grand Rapids this season. The opportunity was wasted, however, when Plihal lost the handle on the puck while moving it to his forehand.

The miscue would prove costly, as the Griffins increased their lead at 14:15. A wide-open Ellis took a pass from Robinson at the top of the right circle and snapped a laser past Patzold, giving Grand Rapids two goals on its first three shots. Ellis struck again with 19.3 seconds left in the frame, scoring on a wrist shot from the left dot.

Himelfarb increased the advantage to four goals 1:24 into the second period, taking advantage of an untimely Barons line change during a Griffins power play to skate in alone and slip the puck through Patzold’s five-hole. Grand Rapids added another final-minute tally at 19:29, when Niklas Kronwall took a pass from Bryan Helmer, walked into the left circle and unleashed a cannon that Patzold had little chance on.

MacDonald extended his franchise record with his 12th career shutout, his third of the season. Patzold finished with 23 saves for Cleveland (7-8-1-1), which lost to the Griffins for the second time in as many nights. The bruising game, not unusual for either a blowout or the back-end of a two-game set, saw a total of four fights and eight roughing penalties.

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