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HURRAY FOR HOWARD


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Jimmy Howard stopped all 26 shots he faced for his second shutout in three games, and the Grand Rapids Griffins leapfrogged from fifth place into a tie for third in the North Division with a 2-0 triumph over the Syracuse Crunch on Friday at Van Andel Arena.

The win was the third straight for the Griffins (10-12-1-2) both overall and at home, as they improved to 5-2-1-1 in their last nine outings and 3-0-0-1 in their last four contests in friendly confines. They’ll try to sweep the weekend set from the Crunch (10-14-1-1) on Saturday in an 8 p.m. start that will be preceded by a fan autograph session with High School Musical stars Lucas Grabeel and Chris Warren Jr.

The Crunch and goaltender Adam Munro managed to survive a swarming Griffins offense for most of the opening period, but the home team’s power play struck at the 6:47 mark. Taking a Mark Hartigan pass inside the Syracuse blue line, Mattias Ritola drew the last defender while speeding down the slot and sent a feed into the right circle to Carl Corazzini, who blasted a shot past Munro’s glove.

Howard maintained that advantage 13 minutes in, sticking out his right pad to deny Steven Goertzen during a shorthanded, 2-on-0 break for the Crunch. Meanwhile, Grand Rapids set up shop in the Syracuse end for most of the period, getting chance after chance before taking the one-goal lead to the locker room.

Syracuse attempted to quell the chaos around its net by inserting Tomas Popperle to start the second period, but Grand Rapids still built a 10-4 advantage in shots for the stanza. Much of the Crunch’s meager total was due to yeomen efforts by the Griffins in their own zone, as a number of Syracuse attempts were blocked before ever finding their way to Howard.

Carrying that 1-0 lead into the final 20 minutes, the Griffins doubled their cushion with 9:22 remaining. Hartigan, the Crunch’s all-time leader in goals and points, wreaked more havoc on his former mates by scoring his team-high 12th goal of the season from the doorstep.

The rest of the game was a clinic by Howard, who notched his 10th career shutout to tie Marc Lamothe for fourth on the franchise’s all-time list.

Munro registered the loss with 14 saves, while Popperle made 18 stops in relief.

Griffins Game Rewind
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Post-Game Sound Bites: 1 2 3
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