10/29/2011 8:43 PM
GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 5 at Milwaukee Admirals 3
Oct. 29, 2011
MILWAUKEE – The Grand Rapids Griffins went two for four on the power play en route to capturing a 5-3 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals at the Bradley Center on Saturday night.
Chris Conner sparked the offensive charge for Grand Rapids with a goal and two assists on the night, and Joey MacDonald made the big saves when called upon as he swept aside 36 of 39 shots to help the Griffins improve to 4-5-0-0. The loss was the first in regulation for the Admirals this season as they now sit at 5-1-0-1 on the year. Atte Engren stopped 24 of 29 shots for the Milwaukee club.
The opening period began with the Admirals on the front foot as they racked up an early 9-3 shot advantage on the Griffins. The momentum shifted when Michael Latta was called for tripping at 13:45 to award Grand Rapids the game’s first odd-man advantage. The Griffins did not waste the opportunity as Conner threw a high, hard pass across the face of goal to connect with Jamie Johnson, who displayed impeccable hand-eye coordination to swat the puck out of mid-air for his second goal of the campaign at the 14:51 mark.
Conner was again instrumental in the Griffins’ second goal at 18:17 when his shot was knocked away by Engren only for Willie Coetzee to backhand the rebound on goal with enough power that it trickled into the net after Engren got a piece of it.
Between the two goals, MacDonald made two spectacular save on Kyle Wilson while Grand Rapids was on the penalty kill. With the power play clicking as well, it was the Griffins’ special teams that helped them establish a 2-0 lead at the first intermission.
Early in the second frame, the Griffins had a minute and two seconds of a five-on-three man advantage to work with and Conner made sure it paid off when he went top shelf with a snap shot at 4:54 to tally his team-leading fifth goal of the season.
The Admirals stayed within striking distance however; after MacDonald was knocked around in the crease, Juuso Puustinen lit the lamp at 15:29 to draw Milwaukee within two goals at 3-1 heading into the final 20 minutes.
Tomas Tatar restored the Griffins’ three goal lead at 3:59 when he tapped into the wide-open cage. Doug Janik began the scoring play with a slap-pass which Joakim Andersson tipped on goal before the puck slid through a goal-mouth scrum to an unmarked Tatar, who didn't miss.
Milwaukee clawed right back with two goals in a nine second span. Ryan Ellis struck first as he slipped the puck past MacDonald before Taylor Beck made it 4-3 with 13:41 left to play.
As the Admirals pressed matters, Andersson sent Gustav Nyquist free with a neatly threaded pass. Nyquist made no mistake on the breakaway, as he potted his fourth goal of the season to give Grand Rapids the breathing room it needed to see out the final tense minutes of the contest.
This Wednesday the Griffins will welcome the Lake Erie Monsters to Van Andel Arena for a 7 p.m. North Division showdown before the Charlotte Checkers come to Grand Rapids for the first time ever on Saturday evening for a 7 p.m. puck drop.
Game Notes: With the win, Griffins Coach Curt Fraser moved out of a tie with Danton Cole and into first place with 117 victories behind the Grand Rapids bench… With his three-point night, Chris Conner moved up to eighth on the AHL scoring chart.
Three Stars: 1. GR Conner (goal, two assists); 2. GR MacDonald (saved 36 of 39); 3. MIL Beck (goal)
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