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Griffins answer with win in Peoria

by Andrea Nelson / Detroit Red Wings

PEORIA, Ill. – The Grand Rapids Griffins extended their winning streak to eight games with a 4-1 victory over the Peoria Rivermen Saturday at Carver Arena.

After the Rivermen jumped on the scoreboard early in the contest, the Griffins rattled off four unanswered goals en route to the victory. The Griffins are only one game away from the second-longest winning streak in franchise history and hold the longest winning streak of any team in the AHL. With their fifth straight road win, the Griffins maintain their lead in first place of the Midwest Division.

The Rivermen (6-9-2-1) struck first in the contest as Chris Bruton scored his first goal of the season at 5:10 of the opening period. Cutting to the net after a faceoff, Bruton’s backhand shot from the left side of the goal deflected underneath Tom McCollum’s right arm for the game’s first goal.

The Griffins (10-4-1-1) tied the game at one on a power play goal at 12:42 of the first period. Gustav Nyquist’s shot deflected off of the goal post and Landon Ferraro and Francis Pare unleashed a flurry of shots on goaltender Mike McKenna. Their persistency paid off as Pare’s final attempt found the back of the net, extending his point streak to six games.

The Griffins fired 20 shots on the Peoria goal in the first 20 minutes, which is the most they've had in any period this season.

Tomas Jurco gave the Griffins their first lead of the game at 10:18 of the second period. Jurco received a great feed from Ferraro in front of the goal, and made a highlight reel move past McKenna to give Grand Rapids a 2-1 lead. McKenna slid with Jurco anticipating a backhand move, but Jurco dragged the puck back around his body from left to right and tucked the puck past the Rivermen netminder.

Tomas Tatar had an opportunity to give the Griffins a two-goal lead with 5:20 left in the game, but McKenna came up with a big stop on a clean breakaway to keep the Rivermen with one.

But Tatar wouldn’t be denied twice. At 17:44 of the third period, Tatar took the third breakaway of the game the length of the ice and fired a shot past McKenna’s left goal pad, giving the Griffins a commanding 3-1 lead.

Tatar sealed the game less than two minutes later when Nyquist found him in stride streaking down center ice. Tatar scored his second goal of the night on an empty net from 20 feet away to give the Griffins a 4-1 lead.

McKenna recorded 40 saves while McCollum earned the win behind 22 saves, improving to 4-2-1 on the year.

The Griffins will return to the Van Andel Arena tomorrow for a 4 p.m. contest against the Milwaukee Admirals. The first 2,500 fans in the arena for tomorrow’s game will receive a Griffins poster and puzzle combo pack courtesy of Milestones Child Development Center.

THREE STARS: 1. GR Jurco (game-winning goal); 2. GR Ferraro (two assists); 3. Bruton (goal)

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