04/04/2009 7:43 PM
HAMILTON, Ontario – The Grand Rapids Griffins dropped a 4-2 decision to the Hamilton Bulldogs at Copps Coliseum on Saturday, meaning that the two teams are tied for second place in the North Division with three games remaining. The two teams will meet in the first round of the playoffs, but home-ice advantage is still up for grabs.
Jimmy Howard started in net for the Griffins (42-23-6-6) for the second consecutive night and stopped 23 shots. Cedrick Desjardins turned aside 18 shots in the winning effort for Hamilton (46-27-4-0). The two teams meet one more time this season, a huge meeting at Van Andel Arena on April 10.
The Bulldogs drew first blood with a power-play goal 8:50 into the opening period. T.J. Kemp took a shot from the right point that deflected in front of the net and went right to Brock Trotter on the left side. Trotter put the puck into the open net from in close to put Hamilton in front 1-0.
The Griffins tied the game on P.J. Atherton’s first goal in a Grand Rapids uniform, which came 1:58 into the second period. Atherton skated into the high slot and fired a laser past Desjardins to make the score 1-1. A second power-play goal by the Bulldogs reestablished the one-goal lead with 10:20 left in the period. Yannick Weber set up in the left circle and one-timed a cross-ice pass into the back of the net for the 2-1 lead.
It looked like the Griffins would tie it during a power play late in the second period, but Mattias Ritola’s drive hit the left goal post. Hamilton took advantage and broke the other way on an odd-man rush. Ryan White fed Ryan Russell, who scored on slap shot for a short-handed goal and a 3-1 Bulldog lead with 4:56 left in the second.
Brian Lashoff scored his first professional goal 4:43 into the third period, giving him three points in as many games with the Griffins and bringing Grand Rapids to within one at 3-2. With the Griffins on only their second power play of the night, Lashoff blasted a shot from the right circle and buried it in the top-right corner of the net. Ville Leino notched an assist on the goal, giving him a three-game assist streak with five games missed due to injury sandwiched in between.
Yanick Lehoux scored from on his knees and behind the net to finish the scoring at 4-2 in favor of the Bulldogs. Lehoux stole the puck on the right side and lost an edge on his skates, falling to his knees. He slid behind the net and threw the puck on goal, resulting in a two-goal lead with 4:22 left in the game.
Three Stars: 1. HAM Russell (GW goal); 2. GR Atherton (Goal); 3. HAM Lehoux (Goal, assist)