Griffins prevail in North Division showdown

Tomas Kopecky and Darryl Bootland recorded a goal and an assist apiece and Donald MacLean scored his league-leading 42nd goal of the season as Grand Rapids pulled out a 5-4 shootout win over Syracuse at the Onondaga County War Memorial on Saturday night.

The win moved the Griffins eight points ahead of the second-place Crunch in the North Division.

Grand Rapids took a 3-0 lead into the late stages of the second period before Andy Delmore and Geoff Platt got Syracuse on the board.

Jiri Hudler gave the Griffins a two-goal cushion early in the third, but Mark Hartigan answered at the 7:37 mark, his 10th consecutive game with a goal. The Crunch are 8-0-1-1 in those 10 games, and Hartigan is the first AHL player with a double-digit goal-scoring streak since Brad Smyth had a 12-gamer in 1995-96.

Mike Sgroi, signed by Syracuse to a tryout contract earlier in the day after being released by Albany, scored the game-tying goal with 4:24 left in regulation.

After a scoreless overtime, Kopecky and Valtteri Filppula converted on their shootout attempts while Jimmy Howard (35 saves) denied the Crunch’s four attempts.

Elsewhere on Saturday:

  • Derek MacKenzie and Kip Miller each scored twice as Chicago routed Cleveland, 8-0, in front of 16,607 fans at Allstate Arena, the largest crowd in the Wolves’ AHL history
  • With 15,708 fans on hand at the Bradley Center — Milwaukee’s largest AHL crowd — Patrick O’Sullivan scored twice, Kirby Law recorded three assists and Josh Harding made 40 saves to lead Houston over the Admirals, 3-0
  • Brad Leeb and Brett Englehardt scored 48 seconds apart late in regulation, but Brent Krahn‘s 37 saves plus a scoreless shootout helped Omaha get past Toronto, 3-2
  • Pat Kavanagh scored with 5:53 left in the third period and Tony Voce and Matt Ellison scored in the shootout as Philadelphia rallied by Hershey, 2-1
  • Hartford overcame four Albany power-play goals in the first period and Daniel Girardi scored with 3:36 left in the game to give the Wolf Pack a 5-4 win over the River Rats
  • Matt Keith and Matt Cullen each scored twice as Norfolk downed Springfield, 5-2
  • Barry Brust made 36 saves and shut the door in the shootout as Manchester beat Providence, 4-3
  • Brad Winchester scored once in the third period and once in the shootout to help Hamilton defeat Binghamton, 3-2
  • Erik Christensen‘s goal with 57 seconds left in overtime gave Wilkes-Barre/Scranton a 3-2 win at Manitoba