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Brian Lashoff scores winner in overtime as Griffins get by Heat 2-1

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ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - On a team stacked with offensive talent, two stay-at-home defencemen led the way for the Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday.

Garnet Exelby scored in the second period and Brian Lashoff added the winner at 3:59 of overtime as the Griffins defeated the Abbotsford Heat 2-1 in the American Hockey League.

During 3-on-3 action in the extra period, Lashoff took a pass from Tomas Tatar right in front of goaltender Danny Taylor and slid a shot home for his fifth of year and second in two games against the Heat.

"We exchanged a couple chances with them and then it was just blown coverage down low and they put one in," said Heat defenceman Jordan Henry, who was on the ice for the winner.

Exelby, more known for his toughness and leadership than his offensive abilities, scored on a laser near the end of the second period to bring the Griffins (15-13-4-2) even at 1-1.

"It was a tough road trip out here," said Exelby, whose team had never won in Abbotsford prior to this weekend. "We came in (Friday) and found a way to win. Tonight we knew that Abbotsford was going to come out a little angry with a pretty solid game and I think we matched it just like we needed to. We finally got a couple wins that we haven't got here."

Akim Aliu scored for the Heat (22-10-3).

Tom McCollum made 32 saves for the win, while Taylor stopped 40 shots in taking the loss after getting the hook in Friday's 4-3 loss to the Griffins.

"I thought goaltending was good for both sides," said Abbotsford captain Quintin Laing. "We knew it would be. We wanted to respond from our effort last night. We gave a better effort but 40-something shots is too many chances."

Grand Rapids is two points behind the Rochester Americans for second in the North Division and is now on a three-game winning streak.

Abbotsford is three points back of their West Division-rival Oklahoma City Barons for first in the AHL.

The Heat opened the scoring just 1:25 into the game. Henry's point shot was stopped, but Aliu was there to bury the rebound. It was his second of the season in just his fourth game since joining the Heat last month on loan from the Winnipeg Jets.

With 76 seconds to go in the middle period, the Griffins tied the game. Jamie Johnson crossed the blue-line and set up Exelby for a huge one-timer that beat Taylor on Grand Rapids' 25th shot of the game.

"I was the last guy up the ice and it sort of occurred to me that if I got on my horse a little bit I might have an opening for a shot on goal," said Exelby. "I gave him the beavertail and he put a nice pass for me to walk into a one-timer. I just tried to shoot as hard as I can on net."

As the Griffins' Brendan Smith jumped out of the box following a penalty he broke in on a 2-on-1 with Fabian Brunnstrom with only a Heat forward back to defend but Taylor made the save on the Swede's backhand attempt with nine minutes to go in the third period.

"(Taylor) definitely played well for us," said Henry. "He's the only reason we got to overtime. We gave up way too many chances and he was there. He got a point for us tonight."

Krys Kolanos, who was buzzing all game long for Abbotsford, came within inches of scoring when his wrist shot squeezed past McCollum but trickled just wide of the far post.

NOTES: Laing played his 601st AHL game. The team paid tribute to him during a commercial timeout in the first period. He is 17th among active players and in the top-100 all-time in AHL games played.

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