10/18/2011 7:25 PM
GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 3 at Hamilton Bulldogs 0
Oct. 18, 2011
HAMILTON, Ontario – Record-setting nights by Chris Conner and Joey MacDonald powered the Grand Rapids Griffins to an impressive 3-0 victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs on Tuesday at Copps Coliseum.
Conner figured in all three tallies and became just the fourth player in Griffins history to score two shorthanded goals in one game. MacDonald made 31 saves and extended his franchise records with his 100th win and 18th shutout, while also breaking a tie with Jimmy Howard for most games played by a Grand Rapids goalie with his 187th appearance.
The Griffins (2-2-0-0) will reach the midpoint of their season-high five-game road trip this Friday, Oct. 21, when they commence a two-game set against the Oklahoma City Barons at the Cox Convention Center. Game time is 8 p.m. EDT.
Coming off a disappointing performance on Sunday in Rochester, the Griffins dominated the early going against the Bulldogs (2-2-0-0), building an 11-0 advantage in shots over the first nine minutes. Hamilton netminder Nathan Lawson answered all challenges, though, and when Mitch Callahan was given a five-minute boarding major and a game misconduct at 9:50 for a hit in the corner on Joe Stejskal that resulted in the defenseman leaving on a stretcher, the Bulldogs had a great opportunity to strike first.
But it was Conner who lit the lamp during the Bulldogs’ extended power play to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. Shadowing Hamilton’s Mark Mitera up the ice, Conner picked the defenseman’s pocket just inside the Bulldogs’ blue line, turned and darted in alone on Lawson, slipping a backhand between his pads at the 14:14 mark.
Just 1:07 into the second frame, Conner helped put the Griffins up by two by feeding Gustav Nyquist for a backhander from the right circle. With the goal, the Swedish rookie joined Conner in pushing his season-opening point streak to four games.
Conner then wrote his name into the franchise record books with his second shorthanded – not to mention unassisted – goal of the night, blowing past defenseman Frederic St. Denis in a blue line-to-blue line race for the puck before putting a beautiful deke on Lawson to make it a 3-0 contest with 4:05 left in the period. Conner joined Matt Ellis (3/12/05 vs. Hamilton), Michel Picard (4/15/00 at Cincinnati) and Ed Patterson (12/12/97 at Cleveland) as the only Griffins to score twice in one game while undermanned.
Hamilton tried to spoil the shutout bid during the final 20 minutes, out-shooting Grand Rapids to the tune of 14-6, but MacDonald stood his ground to secure his first whitewash of the season. Lawson, who backstopped a Bulldogs penalty killing unit that denied all seven Griffins power play attempts, took the loss despite 25 saves.
Notes: 2010-11 AHL All-Rookie defenseman Brendan Smith made his season debut after being ruled ineligible by the AHL for the Griffins’ first three games. He still has two games remaining on his NHL suspension…Following his 115th victory behind Grand Rapids’ bench, Curt Fraser (115-100-11-18) is now just one shy of tying Danton Cole (116-72-16-3) as the winningest head coach in franchise history…Forward Landon Ferraro and defenseman Travis Ehrhardt were scratched due to injuries suffered on Sunday against the Americans.
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