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Bulldogs Back In Series With 5-4 Win
Griffins defensive gaffes give away game...
By Jason Kasiorek

The Griffins fell back to their old ways upon returning to the friendly confines of the Van Andel arena. A poor defensive outing and a shaky start by Jimmy Howard sunk the Griffins despite getting 4 goals from the offense in a 5-4 loss in Game three of their first round series against the Hamilton Bulldogs. Grand Rapids got goals from Darren McCarty, Ville Leino, Justin Abdelkader, and rookie Brian Lashoff in the loss. Abdelkader (1 goal), Haydar (3 assists) and Leino (1g + 1a) are tied for 1st in AHL playoff scoring with 6 points each. Jimmy Howard, who was strong in the first two games of the post-season gave up 5 goals on 26 shots, and couldn't seem to close the door in game three.

Grand Rapids defense was stifling right from the start of the period. Hamilton was very frustrated trying to get chances as the Griffins broke up several good chances including one where Galvin, in the crease, deflected a sure goal away. Lots of hitting early with GR finishing checks all over the place. Halfway through the period Hamilton ended up with a 5 on 3 powerplay. Just after the first griffins player exited the box, Lehoux chipped the puck over Howard from the circle to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead. Downey was really hustling in the first, drawing a penalty as he kept his feet moving. He tried to drop the gloves with Henry who skated away. Then off the next faceoff, Flinn knocked Downey down and tried to instigate a fight but Aaron skated away. Leino was blindsided by Russell setting off a big scrum with several players trying to get at each other. Abdelkader crosschecked Chipchura in the face and tried to fight him. Hamilton slowly took over the second half of the period until McCarty evened the score late in the period. McCarty came out of the box and smoked a Bulldogs player in the corner, stripping him of the puck. The veteran winger then went to the front of the net where he was hit with a Darren Haydar pass that he roofed over Denis with 25 seconds left in the period. Shots on Goal: GR 8 - Ham 10.

The Bulldogs took the lead again early in the first when a defensive breakdown led to Chipchura shooting the puck around Howard (who was way out of the net) for a goal. Less than two minutes later, Maxwell walked around Galvin and in on Howard who gave up a weak goal to make it 3-1. Leino had a great chance, pulling off a spin-o-rama that just went wide. Rookie Brian Lashoff cut the lead to one just past the eight minute mark when he was the late man on the power play, drifting in and rifling a shot past Denis. The Griffins had some unbelievable pressure and chances on the powerplay late in the period. Lashoff and Stafford did a great job keeping the puck in play while on the cycle. Gagnon tried to pick the puck out from under Denis, touching off another scrum. The period ended with a huge sprawling save by Howard. Shots on Goal: GR 9 - Ham 11.

Abdelkader stickhandled through the entire Hamilton team to get a good scoring chance. Kolosov fired a rocket from the line that probably looked more dangerous than it was. Anderson let a shot go from the line that was partially screened by a diving Emmerton. The puck was redirected by Russell to restore the 2 goal lead for another shaky goal. Leino pulled the Griffins to within one, tipping a Lashoff point blast past Denis for a powerplay goal. Galvin turned over the puck at the line for another Bulldogs breakaway that got by Howard to make it 5-3. Off the next faceoff Haydar took a shot that Abdelkader buried to make it 5-4. Howard was pulled for the extra skater with 1:08 on the clock, but it was too little too late. Shots on Goal: GR 14 - Ham 5. For the Game: GR 31 - Ham 26.

Leino - Abdelkader - Haydar
Ritola - #26 Andersson - McCarty
Lemieux - Pare - Tardif
Emmerton - Gagnon - Downey

Kindl - Galvin
Kolosov - Jozsa
Lashoff - Stafford

Starter: Howard
Backup: Larsson

Oulahen - Hip McGrath - Shoulder Axelsson Raedeke Torquato Charleston Pyett Peterson Pearce

Leino - Abdelkader - Haydar
Lashoff - Stafford

Ritola - Andersson - McCarty
Kindl - Stafford

Ritola - Andersson
Kindl - Galvin

Emmerton/Leino - Gagnon - Leino
Kolosov - Stafford

Abdelkader - Haydar


A few notes from a very intense playoff game.

The Griffins had a hard time keeping their intensity/energy level up for the whole game. They were absolutley dominant at times, and then seemed to peter out.

Blueliner Tom Galvin had a rough night, turning over the puck twice in his own end and then watching them end up behind Howard.

Speaking of Jimmy, he didn't turn in a stellar performance tonight. He made some super stops, but also gave up a couple of softies, and could not seem to close the door.

Abdelkader was ramped up for the game and really stood out for his physical play. He may have been the best Griffin on the ice.

I was also impressed by the play of Joakim Andersson who looks like a gamer. He was not afraid to get his nose dirty to get the puck, and balnced out his physical play with some good speed and puck handling.

Lashoff had a strong game along with partner Garrett Stafford who in my opinion played his best game as a Griffin. Lashoff needs to add some size and get his shot off faster, but he looked good on the powerplay.

McCarty may not have the speed or stamina he once had, but he gets by with good positioning and is still dangerous.

Kolosov had a good game and showed a little bit of an edge to go with his size. He moved the puck well, and won some big battles in the corner and along the boards.

Frankie Pare did not have much in the way of dangerous scoring chances, but was a dogged and relentless forechecker, creating havoc with Frankie Lemieux.

Cory Emmerton was underpowered and didn't have much of an impact all night.

I didn't get a chance to catch up with him, but I sat a few seats away from Dick Axelsson, and he had no cast on his fingers/hands and seemed to be having no difficulty using his fingers on the phone, adding to the mystery of his absence from the lineup.

Official Game Sheet