[From the Griffins]
CLEVELAND – The Grand Rapids Griffins started strong by building a 2-0 lead through 20 minutes on Saturday, but the Cleveland Monsters rallied with four answered goals for a 4-2 victory at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, their first series win in four tries this season.
Four straight minor penalties committed by the Griffins in the second period – including a pair of too-many-men calls – opened the door for the Monsters, who scored the first two of their three second-period goals on the power play. Cleveland then shut that door on Grand Rapids thanks largely to Daniil Tarasov, who made his North American debut after beginning this season in the KHL. The 2017 third-round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets finished with 27 saves and stopped the last 21 shots he faced.
Riley Barber put Grand Rapids on the board with a power play tally at 10:57 of the first period. On a rush into the Cleveland zone, he pulled up at the right hashmarks and ripped a shot past Tarasov for his 12th goal of the season, tied for second-most in the AHL.
Mathias Brome made it two points in as many games as a Griffin by notching his first AHL goal with 43 seconds left in the frame. From behind the net, he threw a pass out front toward Turner Elson, but the puck hit the left skate blade of Gavin Bayreuther and was redirected beneath Tarasov.
After the Griffins failed to convert on two full minutes of a 5-on-3 advantage that spanned the intermission, Cleveland’s power play connected twice within the first eight minutes of the middle period to knot the score. Carson Meyer banged home a Tyler Sikura feed from the slot at 4:22, before Sikura tipped an Adam Helewka blast from the right circle past Pat Nagle at 7:41.
The Monsters capitalized on a bad bounce to grab the 3-2 lead at 12:36. A puck dumped into the Griffins’ zone took an odd bounce off a glass partition and caromed into the slot to a crashing Kole Sherwood, who quickly put it past the defenseless Grand Rapids goalie. Sherwood tallied No. 2 at the 4:44 mark of the third to salt the game away, scoring on a rebound from the slot.
Playing their fifth of six straight road games, the Griffins suffered a season-high third consecutive loss in regulation. After a rematch in Cleveland on Friday, the Griffins will return to Van Andel Arena next Saturday to host Rockford, marking just their fifth home game of the season in their 18th contest overall.
Grand Rapids 2 0 0 - 2
Cleveland 0 3 1 - 4
1st Period-1, Grand Rapids, Barber 12 (Cholowski, Hirose), 10:57 (PP). 2, Grand Rapids, Brome 1 19:17. Penalties-Curry Gr (tripping), 4:15; Bjorgvik-Holm Cle (hooking), 10:36; Gerbe Cle (unsportsmanlike conduct - disputing decision, misconduct - abuse of officials, game misconduct - abuse of officials), 19:23; Sherwood Cle (tripping), 19:23.
2nd Period-3, Cleveland, Meyer 4 (Sikura, Helewka), 4:22 (PP). 4, Cleveland, Sikura 6 (Helewka, Bayreuther), 7:41 (PP). 5, Cleveland, Sherwood 2 (Bjorgvik-Holm, Moncada), 12:36. Penalties-Elson Gr (fighting), 1:50; Sherwood Cle (fighting), 1:50; served by Spezia Gr (bench minor - too many men), 2:42; Lindstrom Gr (holding), 6:13; Criscuolo Gr (holding), 8:44; served by Barber Gr (bench minor - too many men), 14:14; Scott Cle (hooking), 19:53.
3rd Period-6, Cleveland, Sherwood 3 (Clendening, Dunne), 4:44. Penalties-Barber Gr (fighting), 14:09; Bayreuther Cle (fighting), 14:09; Jordan Cle (tripping), 14:15; Shine Gr (roughing), 18:06; Sherwood Cle (cross-checking, roughing), 18:06.
Shots on Goal-Grand Rapids 9-11-9-29. Cleveland 8-13-6-27.
Power Play Opportunities-Grand Rapids 1 / 6; Cleveland 2 / 5.
Goalies-Grand Rapids, Nagle 4-4-0 (27 shots-23 saves). Cleveland, Tarasov 1-0-0 (29 shots-27 saves).
1. CLE Tarasov (W, 27 saves); 2. CLE Sherwood (two goals); 3. CLE Sikura (power play goal, assist)
Record / Next Game
Grand Rapids: 8-6-2-0 (18 pts.) / Fri., April 9 at Cleveland 7 p.m.
Cleveland: 8-5-1-0 (17 pts.) / Fri., April 9 vs. Grand Rapids 7 p.m.