TORONTO - The Grand Rapids Griffins weren't about to look a gift horse in the mouth.
Sloppy play by the Toronto Marlies led to a ton of scoring chances for the Griffins and they took full advantage, hammering the Marlies 7-3 Sunday.
The blowout led to backup goalie Adam Munro getting his first minutes as a Marlies as Justin Pogge (1-2-2) was pulled after allowing four goals on 18 shots by the halfway point of the game.
Toronto coach Greg Gilbert made it clear he wasn't impressed with Pogge's performance.
"I don't think Justin was very sharp today, to be quite honest with you," said Gilbert. "He may say something different, but some of the plays that were being made, the goals that were being scored, everybody has an off night and maybe tonight wasn't his night, but I felt he wasn't as sharp as he needed to be and we've got to make a move somehow."
When asked about the game, Pogge assumed some blame for the lopsided score.
"They played great and we kind of got off to a slow start. I probably could have played a little better. Nothing else you can do," said Pogge, now in his third year with the Marlies.
Darren Haydar and rookies Ville Leino and Francis Pare each had a goal and an assist, while Landon Wilson, Jakub Kindl, Justin Abdelkader and Jamie Tardif also scored for Grand Rapids (2-0-1).
Brent Aubin had a pair of late goals when the game was already out of reach. Captain Ben Ondrus was the only other Marlie to beat Griffins goalie Daniel Larsson (1-1-0) in front of a sparse Ricoh Coliseum crowd of 1,363.
While he could have cited any number of areas in which his team could have been better, Gilbert pointed to a lack of effort as the primary reason for the loss.
"We've got a lot of areas that we've got to clean up and one, as a group, is our competitiveness, our physicality," he said. "We've got too many guys who aren't willing to pay the price and do the little things and sacrifice to win hockey games right now."
Ondrus said the team lost its way after failing to capitalize on a couple of early chances.
"I think we just didn't stick to the game plan," he said. "We came out in the first period and I didn't think we played that bad. They got a couple goals and the second period speaks for itself, they got a big lead and they're a tough team to come back against.
"It's just a thing we're doing to ourselves I think right now. Give them all the credit in the world - they came to play tonight and beat us bad. We just have to learn from it and correct our mistakes in practice."
Trailing 4-1 mid-way though the second period, Toronto (1-2-1) had a chance to climb back in the contest when Wilson was assessed a four-minute penalty for high sticking. But the power play failed to generate any offence and the Griffins tacked on two more goals before the period ended.
The Marlies also had a pair of two-on-ones early in the second when it was still a two-goal game, but couldn't cash in.
Grand Rapids' fifth goal, scored by Tardif, epitomized the type of game Toronto turned in. Marlies defenceman Andy Schneider, under no apparent pressure, couldn't control the puck on his stick and Tardif swooped in, stole the puck and swept through the crease before stuffing it in the goal.
The tallies came early and often in the first frame, with three goals on the board by the seven-minute mark.
Wilson opened the scoring on a power play just 1:19 into the game, beating Pogge to the short side with a wrist shot. Pare banged home a rebound to make it 2-0 for Grand Rapids, but barely a minute after that goal, Ondrus struck back for the Marlies when he found a loose puck during a goal-mouth scramble and fired it past Larsson.
Kindl then cranked a one-timer from the faceoff circle off the post and past Pogge on the stick side.
Notes: Stefano Giliati had two assists for Toronto. ... Pare's goal was his first AHL tally. ... Munro played for the Syracuse Crunch last year, the team Toronto ousted in the second round of the playoffs. ... Leino, 25, was the Finnish League's MVP last season.