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HEARTLESS BARRACUDA BITE GRIFFS

San Jose Barracuda 4 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 1

Jan. 27, 2017

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
– Behind 43 saves by Troy Grosenick, the San Jose Barracuda made Friday’s first-ever visit to Michigan a pleasant one, taking a 4-1 decision that marked the Grand Rapids Griffins’ largest margin of defeat at Van Andel Arena this season.

The Griffins, who entering this week had earned points in 21 of their previous 25 games, also fell 2-1 to Iowa on Wednesday, marking the team’s first back-to-back losses in regulation in more than two months (Nov. 18-23) and their first consecutive regulation defeats at home since the end of last season (April 13-16).

Still atop the Western Conference with a 27-12-1-2 record, Grand Rapids will complete a five-game homestand at 7 p.m. Saturday by welcoming the Stockton Heat for their inaugural appearance at Van Andel Arena, after which they’ll have four days off for the AHL all-star break.

The Barracuda, second in the Pacific Division with a 21-11-1-3 mark, turned the tables on the Griffins’ league-leading power play to score a shorthanded goal 13:44 into the game. From deep in the San Jose end, Julius Bergman sent a stretch pass to Barclay Goodrow, who skated in alone before slipping the puck through Cal Heeter’s five-hole.

The visitors added to their advantage during their own power play 9:34 into the second, when Nikolay Goldobin sniped a shot into the far corner of the net from the right faceoff dot. Minutes later, Joakim Ryan had a great chance to make it a three-goal game when he was sent in on another breakaway after being sprung from the penalty box, but Heeter stretched out his left pad to deny Ryan at the post and keep the margin at two.

Having out-shot San Jose by a 31-18 count through 40 minutes but showing nothing for their efforts, the Griffins finally broke through just 31 seconds into the third period to spoil Grosenick’s bid for a league-high seventh shutout. Evgeny Svechnikov fired a sharp-angle shot from the left corner that somehow eluded the grasp of the goalie, who ranks second in the AHL with a 0.929 save percentage and third with a 2.10 goals against average.

However, the Barracuda needed less than 90 seconds to restore their two-goal cushion and another three-and-a-half minutes to make it a 4-1 contest. Marcus Sorensen’s shot from the top of the circles rang off the pipe but rebounded high into the right circle to Goldobin, who connected on a one-timer through traffic for his second of the night at the 1:57 mark. Bergman then added to San Jose’s haul at 5:33, launching a slap shot from the right point that deflected off Matthew Ford and bounced past Heeter.

Heeter skated to the bench in favor of an extra attacker with more than three minutes remaining, but the Griffins were unable to inch closer. The netminder suffered just his second loss of the season against seven wins, finishing with 24 saves.

Another victim of this night was the Griffins’ 11-game streak of scoring a power play goal, which tied for the third-longest run in franchise history.

Three Stars: 1. SJ Grosenick (W, 43 saves); 2. SJ Goldobin (two goals); 3. GR Svechnikov (goal)