Filppula pushes Griffins past Marlies

Ilari Filppula’s second goal of the third period came with just 2:54 left in regulation to spoil Toronto’s comeback bid and send Grand Rapids to a 4-3 win over the visiting Marlies on Wednesday before 8,385 fans at Van Andel Arena.

With the victory, the Griffins snapped a brief two-game losing skid and entered the Christmas break with a .500 record overall at 14-14-1-4, which puts them just one point back of Manitoba for fourth place in the North Division race.

Grand Rapids built leads of 1-0 and 3-1 in this one, but the Marlies came back both times. Griffins forwards Jamie Tardif and Joakim Andersson netted goals in the first and second periods, respectively, with a Justin Hodgman marker for Toronto wedged in between.

Filppula extended the Griffins’ lead to 3-1 when he scored 9:07 into the third frame, but the Marlies’ Darryl Boyce (13:32) and Jay Rosehill (16:13) scored less than three minutes apart to make it a 3-3 contest.

That set the stage for Filppula’s team-leading 12th goal of the season at the 17:06 mark, with assists going to Tomas Tatar and defenseman Jakub Kindl.

Tatar finished with three helpers on the evening, while Kindl chipped in a pair. Griffins goaltender Joey MacDonald, who spent last season with the Marlies, emerged with the win after making 22 saves.

Toronto limps into the break with a 2-5-0-1 mark in its last eight outings on the heels of a 10-2-0-1 run between Nov. 9 and Dec. 4.