03/05/2006 6:35 PM
- GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
Donald MacLeans franchise-record 47th goal of the season provided the icing on the cake of the Grand Rapids Griffins 6-1 win over the Rochester Americans on Sunday at Van Andel Arena.
At 10:46 of the third period, MacLean stripped the puck from an Amerk in the high slot and quickly rocketed a blast over the glove of Jean-Marc Pelletier, eclipsing the single-season standard of 46 goals set by Michel Picard during the Griffins inaugural 1996-97 campaign.
Jiri Hudler led the way with two goals and an assist and Jimmy Howard made 20 saves to improve to 16-4-2 on the year, as the Griffins (43-16-1-4) maintained their AHL leadership with 43 wins and 91 points.
A tremendous effort by Nate DiCasmirro resulted in a 1-0 lead for the Griffins just 51 seconds into the affair. Taking a pass from MacLean, DiCasmirro found himself alone in the Amerks zone during a Grand Rapids line change. He weaved through several defenders, drew Pelletier out of the net and beat him with a shot from low in the left circle.
Hudler scored shorthanded in unique fashion at 11:03, giving the Griffins two goals on just four shots. As his teammates finished killing off 1:29 of a 5-on-3 Rochester power play, Hudler sprung from the penalty box and tried to chase down a clearing pass in the Amerks zone. Pelletier won the race to the puck, directing it into the right corner, but Hudler gathered it along the boards just above the goal line, turned and flipped a shot from an impossible angle into the vacated cage.
Hudler, who lit the lamp twice in Rochester on Feb. 22, repeated the feat with a power play goal from the doorstep at the 17:26 mark, tapping in a pass that Eric Himelfarb had threaded through the crease from the left side. Hudlers 32nd goal of the season also marked his 80th point, making him just the seventh player in franchise history and the first in three years to reach that plateau. Now showing 81 points, he stands just three points off the AHL scoring lead.
Darryl Bootland contributed to the carnage with his career-high 19th goal at 8:45 of the second period, taking a cross-ice pass from Tomas Kopecky and leisurely potting the puck into an open net. Bootland returned the favor less than three minutes later, feeding Kopecky for a tap-in on the rush to make it a 5-0 game. Rochesters Matt Hendricks spoiled Howards shutout bid 5:45 into the third period.
The Griffins magic number for clinching a playoff spot outright now stands at six points over Rochester (27-30-2-2). Theyll be back in action on Wednesday to host Peoria at 7 p.m.