ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Daniel Larsson stopped a season-high 38 shots as the Grand Rapids Griffins shut out the Rochester Americans 6-0 at the Blue Cross Arena on Sunday night in the franchise’s 1000th game. The Griffins swept a series of four games in five nights with the win and are currently riding a season-high four-game winning streak.
Jakub Kindl recorded three assists to lead five Griffins with multiple points. The last time that Grand Rapids swept four games in five nights was from Nov. 18-22 of 2005. Combined with Jimmy Howard’s shutout on Saturday night, it also marks the first time that Grand Rapids has had back-to-back shutouts since Dec. 30-31, 2006. The win moves the Griffins (17-7-3-3) into sole possession of second place in the North Division, just two points behind first-place Manitoba.
Ville Leino and Darren Helm combined for the first goal of the match with 3:11 remaining in the opening period. Helm charged down the right side, cut in toward the net and slid the puck across the crease to Leino, who tapped it in for his sixth goal of the season and a 1-0 Griffins lead. Leino made it 2-0 5:27 into the second period with his second goal of the game. He took a loose puck in front of the net and spun around, switching from his forehand to his backhand before shooting it past Rochester’s Mike Brodeur, who made 17 saves in two periods of action.
The line of Evan McGrath, Francis Pare and Francis Lemieux scored two goals in 25 seconds late in the second period to give Grand Rapids some breathing room. Pare scored the first goal with 4:05 left in the second stanza when he won a faceoff in the Rochester end and swept the puck off a defender and into the net. Just 25 seconds later, Pare took a pass on the right side and fed a streaking McGrath in the high slot. McGrath skated in on net and scored on a backhander to make the score 4-0 in favor of the Griffins. Pare’s two points gave him his third straight multi-point game during a four-game point streak (3-4-7), while McGrath’s goal extended his point streak to five games (1-4-5).
Chris Beckford-Tseu took over the goaltending duties for the Amerks in the third period, but it didn’t matter to Mattias Ritola, who scored a power-play goal 4:13 into the final period. Darren Haydar controlled the puck at the Rochester blue line and led Ritola with a pass into the offensive end. Ritola came in on Beckford-Tseu and beat him with a wrist shot from in close to make the score 5-0.
Darren Helm capped off the scoring with a 5-on-3 power-play goal off a rebound from a shot by Kindl. Helm handled the rebound in front of the net and lifted a backhander over Beckford-Tseu to make it a six-goal game with his 10th of the year.
Three Stars: 1. GR Leino (2 goals); 2. GR Larsson (38 saves, shutout); 3. GR Kindl (3 assists)