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CAPTAIN COMEBACK

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – An Erik Westrum goal with 1:31 remaining spoiled a two-goal comeback effort by Matt Ellis and lifted the Toronto Marlies to a 3-2 win over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday at Van Andel Arena.

With his team down 2-0, Ellis scored late in the first period and with 2:12 left in the third to tie it, but Westrum tallied soon after to make it seven straight meetings between these teams – including four playoff contests – which the visiting team has won. Ellis’ two goals give him 52 for his Griffins career, moving him past Ed Patterson (51) into 10th place on the franchise’s all-time list.

Grand Rapids and Toronto will stage a rematch tomorrow afternoon, in a 4 p.m. start at the Ricoh Coliseum.

The Marlies potted goals 47 seconds apart midway through the opening period. Former Red Wing Boyd Devereaux popped a rebound home from the right side for a shorthanded tally at 10:58, followed by a John Mitchell goal that put Jimmy Howard and the Griffins in a 0-2 hole.

Grand Rapids’ captain answered during a power play at the 14:14 mark, as Ellis slapped a rebound past Justin Pogge from the doorstep to end the Toronto netminder’s shutout streak against the Griffins at 74:03.

Toronto maintained its 2-1 lead deep into the third period, until Ellis tied it during a goal-mouth scramble at 17:48. However, a defensive breakdown in the Griffins’ zone just 41 seconds later allowed an unchallenged Westrum to throw the puck into a yawning cage from the left circle at 18:29.

The Griffins were awarded a power play with 53 ticks left and pulled Howard to give themselves a 6-on-4 advantage, which soon became a 6-on-3 power play after penalties were handed out following a scrum at 19:34. But Pogge finished off his 29-save performance to improve to 2-0 against the Griffins during his rookie campaign.

Grand Rapids went 1-for-10 on the power play but held Toronto scoreless in seven attempts, marking the fourth straight game that the Griffins have not allowed a power play goal. Howard ended the night with 27 stops.


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