Howard Holds Off Marlies 2-1
Netminder's sterling effort stops 24 shots and 6 more in the shootout...
By Jason Kasiorek
Starter Jimmy Howard finally got the best of Griffins nemesis Justin Pogge, edging him 2-1 in an eight round shootout. After an incredible defensive battle, it looked like the home team would come out on the wrong side of things after Howard gave up goals to the first two Marlies Shooter's. But the 4th year pro shut the door and didn't allow another through the next six rounds to claim the victory. Darren McCarty scored his third of the year in regulation, while Leino, Haydar and Evan McGrath had shootout goals. The game was a costly one for the Griffins as defenseman Sergei Kolosov suffered a sprained wrist early, and slick playmaker Mattias Ritola injured a shoulder and will be out at least 4-6 weeks.
Great chance in front by Ritola early as his line with Emmerton and Haydar cycled the puck and gave the Marlies' fits. Toronto is trying to play tough in an end to end period. Justin Pogge had to be at the top of his game as the Griffins had at least a dozen dangerous chances. Shots on Goal: GR 10 - Tor 7.
McCarty got Grand Rapids on the board early in the second with a great individual effort. He got the puck next to the net and while on his knees, chipped a shot in over Pogge. Ritola was hit hard and left the ice in pain, hunched over and holding his arm. He went straight to the locker room and didn't return. Shots on Goal: GR 10 - Tor 8.
Ryan Oulahen got smoked by a Marlies player from his blindside. He was shaken up but OK. The Marlies are really bringing the physical game getting rough and trying to intimidate the Griffins. Halfway through the period, Kindl and Helm end up in the box giving the Marlies a 5-on-3 powerplay for almost two whole minutes. The griffins penalty killers did a great job, holding out almost a minute and a half before Williams got the puck in the circle and stroked a shot that beat Howard high to tie the game. Shots on Goal: GR 13 - Tor 7.
Grand Rapids had several good chances in the overtime, but were unable to get another one past Pogge. Shots on Goal: GR 2 - Tor 2.
Stapleton went first for Toronto and ripped a shot past Howard stick side for a goal. Leino answered for Grand Rapids when his shot went in off Pogge's glove. Tlusty made a move on Howard that left the netminder sprawled out in the crease for an easy tap in. McGrath shot in on net, made a move, and had the puck roll off his stick. 2-1 Toronto. Jeremy Williams was the third Marlies shooter, but Jimmy flashed the pad for a save. Darren Haydar evened the score, going five-hole. Engel started the fourth round but Howard denied him with a pad save. Emmerton was stopped by Pogge to keep things even. Bates Battaglia tried to drag the puck around Hoard's foot, but he butterflied and took away the whole bottom. Abdelkader streaked in on net and had the puck roll off his stick and into the corner to end round five. Stapleton shot the puck wide, followed by Leino who tried to go five-hole but was denied by Pogge. Tlusty's chance ended up being deflected over the net by Howard's stick, and Haydar hit Pogge in the chest as he went down to make the save. Williams was the eighth Marlies shooter and Howard came out to challenge, making a stick save, setting the stage for Evan McGrath who put a shot over Pogge's shoulder and in for the win. Shots on Goal For the Game: GR 35 - Tor 24.
Leino - Helm - Mursak/Haydar
Oulahen - Abdelkader - McCarty
Ritola/Oulahen - Emmerton - Haydar
Lemieux - Pare - McGrath
Kindl - Galvin
Kolosov - Stafford
Jozsa - Atherton
Downey - Knee
Tardif - Knee
Leino - Helm - Mursak
Haydar - Kindl
Lemieux - Pare - McGrath
Haydar - Stafford
Ritola - Abdelkader/Oulahen
Kindl - Galvin/Jozsa
Helm - Leino
Stafford - Galvin
Jakub Kindl logged a ton of minutes, and really had a good game. He wasn't guilty of mnay mistakes and really looked to thrive on the extra ice-time and responsibility. This was probably the best game he has played since before Christmas.
Jan Mursak really looked like he belonged, attacking the net and digging the puck out of the corners. He had a lot of jump and seemed to mesh well with Helm and Leino.
Jimmy Howard was dominant between the pipes, having a near perfect game. His confidence level was high and he made some good stops.