Griffins move into first with matinee win

Grand Rapids needed a two-goal rally in the third period to force overtime, then pulled out a 5-4 shootout victory over Manitoba in a Tuesday matinee at Van Andel Arena.

The win moved the Griffins into sole possession of first place in the North Division, one point clear of the Moose.

Valtteri Filppula scored to pull Grand Rapids to within a goal at the 10:26 mark of the third period, set up Bryan Helmer‘s equalizer with 1:40 remaining, then delivered the deciding tally in the fifth round of the shootout.

With 2005 AHL All-Rookie defenseman Kevin Bieksa leading the offense with two goals and an assist, the Moose took a 4-2 lead through 40 minutes, but couldn’t hang on as they ended their seven-game road trip winless in their last four (0-2-1-1).

Wade Flaherty shined in net for Manitoba, finishing with 49 saves as the Griffins owned a 54-22 edge in shots.

2005 AHL All-Star Joey MacDonald, making his first AHL appearance of the season after off-season back surgery, made 18 saves in the win.

Attendance at Van Andel was 6,683, including more than 3,700 middle- and high-school students from the Grand Rapids area.