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NO MINOR ACCOMPLISHMENT

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – During the 2005-06 season, Jimmy Howard led the Grand Rapids Griffins to the AHL’s regular season title, but creasemate Drew MacIntyre starred during the team’s run to the Western Conference Finals. They were reunited as foes Saturday in a wildly entertaining, power play-filled game at Van Andel Arena, with Howard and the Griffins prevailing over MacIntyre’s Manitoba Moose squad 5-4 in a shootout.

The Griffins rallied three times to tie the score, forcing overtime on Kip Miller’s second goal of the game with 9:10 left in regulation. Miller also scored the decisive shootout marker, while Howard equaled his career high with 40 saves and denied four of five attempts in the shootout to help Grand Rapids improve to 6-3-1-1 with its third straight win.

After completing their season-high eight-game homestand with a 4-3-0-1 mark, the Griffins will finish off this rare four-game set against Manitoba with games Tuesday and Wednesday in Winnipeg, their first road contests since Oct. 13.

Manitoba, which entered the night on a 0-for-24 drought with the man advantage, scored all of its goals on the power play, benefiting from 13 opportunities that matched a record for a Grand Rapids opponent. The first two came courtesy of fortunate bounces 3:03 apart in the first period, with Brad Moran scoring into an open net at 11:14 and Nathan Smith backhanding a shot through a sea of defenders minutes later.

Josh Langfeld made it a one-goal game with 4:03 left in the period, banking a shot off MacIntyre from the right of the cage. In the second, after Darryl Bootland fired just wide of an empty goal after springing from the penalty box and beating MacIntyre in a race for the puck, Miller rang a shot off the crossbar from the left circle. However, Miller found redemption at 8:54 during a two-man advantage, scoring upstairs on a snap shot to give the Griffins their only goal in 11 power play chances on the night.

The teams quickly traded goals during Manitoba power plays, starting with a Moose tally at 13:15, when Joe Rullier’s seemingly harmless shot from the point along the right boards somehow found its way past Howard’s glove. But Brendan Brooks answered with a shorthanded breakaway goal 2:31 later, making it a 3-3 game at the second break. Manitoba then went back on top on a pinball goal by Jason Jaffray 3:34 into the third, before Miller sent it to overtime on a goal from the left circle.

Miller and Langfeld scored in the shootout for Grand Rapids, while only Jesse Schultz could convert for Manitoba. MacIntyre finished with 29 saves but stopped only two of four shootout attempts.

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