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TORONTO TOPPLES GRIFFINS FOR THIRD TIME

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Two goals by Brad Leeb spanning less than two minutes over the second and third periods helped the Toronto Marlies rally for a 5-3 win at Van Andel Arena on Friday, breaking the Griffins’ five-game winning streak with their third straight victory in the series.

Grand Rapids held a 2-1 lead in the waning minutes of the middle period before seeing the Marlies erupt for three straight goals over 3:19 and four of the game’s last five tallies. The Griffins (29-12-1-2), who’ve been outscored 16-6 during their three straight losses to Toronto (22-17-3-0), will have another chance for vengeance when they host a rematch with the Marlies on Saturday.

Following a scoreless first period highlighted by an apparent Jiri Hudler goal waved off because of a high stick, the Griffins went up 1-0 on a shorthanded tally 2:54 into the second. During a 4-on-3 Marlies power play, Matt Ellis gained possession of the puck and fed it to Eric Manlow at center ice. The crafty veteran skated to the top of the right circle and unleashed a quick shot that snuck into the top right corner behind Jean-Sebastien Aubin.

Toronto used its power play to knot things up midway through the frame. Colin Murphy got behind his defender on the right side and crashed the net of Joey MacDonald, who denied the initial shot. However, Jay Harrison stormed in from the left to gobble up the rebound and beat MacDonald to the post at 10:35.

The Griffins regained the lead during a 5-on-3 advantage just over two minutes later. Aubin turned aside a blast by the red-hot Donald MacLean, but the rebound came out to Eric Himelfarb low in the left circle. He quickly shifted the puck to his forehand and lifted a shot over the sprawled Aubin at the 12:45 mark. The Marlies, though, fought back once again to take a 3-2 lead to the locker room. Murphy’s power play goal with 1:37 left in the frame tied the score, and Leeb capitalized on a breakdown to blister a shot past MacDonald during a 3-on-1 break with only 15.9 seconds showing on the scoreboard.

Toronto lost no momentum during intermission, as Leeb scored on a tough angle from the bottom of the left circle during a power play just 1:42 into the final period, making it a 4-2 game. Soon after, Hudler scored one that counted to cut the deficit to one, getting to a puck in the left circle and whipping a shot home at 6:17. The goal marked his 136th career point as a Griffin, tying him for fourth place on the franchise’s all-time scoring list.

Grand Rapids was awarded its ninth power play with 2:39 remaining but could not capitalize, and John Pohl scored into an empty net with 37 seconds left for the final margin.


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