Griffins split weekend series with Marlies in loss

<strong>Toronto Marlies 5 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 2</strong>

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Toronto Marlies scored the game’s final three goals to earn a split of their weekend visit to Van Andel Arena with a 5-2 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday.

After winning just one of their previous six games, the Marlies (8-2-2-1) rebounded to maintain a share of first place in the North Division, which saw them tied with three other teams at 17 points apiece as the day dawned.

On the heels of playing three home games in four days, the Griffins (6-6-1-1) will enjoy a day off Sunday before traveling to Cleveland in advance of Tuesday’s 7 p.m. clash with the Monsters.

Toronto jumped out front on a power play goal with 3:26 left in the first period, as Pontus Aberg’s shot from the bottom of the right circle seemed to handcuff Filip Larsson and found its way into the net.

During a Griffins power play early in the second, Larsson denied a shorthanded breakaway by Egor Korshkov to keep his team’s deficit at one, but the rookie netminder was victimized by an unfortunate slip just after Grand Rapids’ advantage expired. Bringing the puck out from behind the net, Gustav Lindstrom lost an edge, hit the deck and turned the puck over in the slot, sparking a mad scramble and three quick saves by Larsson before Garrett Wilson banked a shot off the goalie’s left pad from below the goal line for a 2-0 Toronto lead at 4:49.

The Griffins soon scored twice within a span of 1:07 to knot the score. Filip Zadina lit the lamp for the second straight game at the 7:28 mark, whipping a shot past a prone Kasimir Kaskisuo from low in the right circle off a feed from Michael Rasmussen, before Dominic Turgeon knocked home a puck that was sitting behind Kaskisuo after a Jarid Lukosevicius shot from the left circle slipped between his pads.

The Griffins had a chance to do even more damage with 1:16 of 5-on-3 power play time midway through the frame, but Kaskisuo stood tall with three saves during the two-man advantage and another five before Toronto’s second penalty expired.

Despite outshooting the Marlies 17-9 for the period, Grand Rapids went to the locker room trailing 3-2 thanks to a goal by Pierre Engvall with 1:21 remaining, as he darted to the goalmouth to deflect Rasmus Sandin’s shot from the left point past Larsson.

Toronto salted away the game at 16:34 of the third when Kenny Agostino scored on a one-timer from the left circle for a power goal that doubled the visitors’ cushion. A delay of game penalty on the Marlies nine seconds later prompted Ben Simon to call his timeout and pull Larsson to create a 6-on-4 advantage in skaters, but Engvall scored into the empty net for a shorthanded goal at 17:08.

Kaskisuo made 31 saves in the win while Larsson stopped 18 of 22. Grand Rapids went 1-for-6 on the power play and allowed Toronto two goals on five chances.

Notes: Matt Puempel earned an assist on Zadina’s goal to extend his point streak to nine games, equaling his own career-best run from Jan. 12-Feb. 4, 2018 that had stood as the most recent nine-game point streak for a Griffin. It ties for the 16th-longest point streak in the Griffins’ 24-year history.

Three Stars: 1. TOR Engvall (two goals, assist); 2. TOR Kaskisuo (W, 31 saves); 3. GR Zadina (power play goal)

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