Trio Leads Monsters to Win Saturday

It was a night of threes for the Lake Erie Monsters, as the team was led by the offensive trio of Darren Haydar, T.J. Hensick and Brian Willsie, who combined for nine points (4G, 5A),helping end the team’s three-game losing streak in a 5-3 win against the Grand Rapids Griffins Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena. The win improves the Monsters to 28-27-0-5 while the Griffins drop to 25-33-2-1.

Grand Rapids reached the scoreboard first, as Justin Abdelkader notched his fourth of the season at the 7:37 mark of the first period. Cutting across the slot, Mattias Ritola let go of a wrist shot that Monsters goalie Billy Sauer got his toe on. The puck, kicked just outside the goalie’s crease, laid on the door step for Abdelkader, who slammed home the rebound into a yawning net. Jakub Kindl picked up the second assist on the goal.

Less than a minute later, Jeremy Williams put the Griffins up by two with his 20th of the season. Bringing the puck into the Monsters zone, Williams blew a slapshot past Sauer’s glove from just inside the faceoff circle. Doug Janik was credited with the lone assist on the goal.

The two-goal lead wouldn’t last long, as Hensick cut the Griffins lead in half with his 16th of the season four minutes later at the 12:25 mark of the first. Taking a pass at the point from Haydar, defenseman Travis Gawryletz unleashed a bomb from the point that Hensick deflected on his backhand past the blocker of Griffins goalie Daniel Larsson, putting the Monsters on the board.

Before the Griffins were able to slip out of the first with a lead, Haydar netted his 19th with less than 90 seconds left in the beginning frame to send the game into the second period tied at two. Winning an offensive-zone draw, Hensick took the puck with one hand and pushed it over to Haydar. Cutting across the slot, Haydar slid the puck between Larsson’s fivehole, tying the game.

Lake Erie would retake the lead less than five minutes into the second frame on a Ray Macias marker. Taking a pass from Haydar, who was on the goal line, Macias waited for Haydar to cut toward the front of the net and screen Larsson before putting a wrist shot on net that found the top part of the cage past Larsson’s glove. Willsie picked up the second assist on the goal.

At the midway mark of the second, however, the Griffins would knot the score at three. On the power play, Kindl snuck down from his spot at the point, skated around the net, and in an attempt to score on a wraparound, pushed the puck into the crease, where Francis Pare tapped it in on the doorstep. Kris Newbury picked up the second assist on the goal.

After Pare’s goal tied the game at the 9:54 mark of the second, the final 10 minutes of the middle frame would go by without score, and the teams would head into regulation’s final 20 minutes tied at three.

In the third, the Monsters would waste little time letting the score stay tied, as Willsie’s 19th of the year would put Lake Erie ahead just 51 seconds in. At the top of the circle on the power play, Willsie took a cross-ice pass from Hensick and buried a one-timer over the blocker of Larsson and under the crossbar. Tom Preissing picked up the secondary assist.

After Willsie’s score, the Monsters buckled down, and held the Griffins to just eight shots in the third period. Haydar would ice the game with just two seconds left in the third, pushing his 20th of the season into an empty net. Macias recorded the lone assist on the game’s final goal.

Haydar’s four-point effort (2G, 2A) ties a Lake Erie season high for the most points in a single game, and marked the forward’s 15th multi-point game of the season. Tallying three points (1G, 2A), Hensick recorded his 16th game with multiple points, while Willsie’s two-point effort (1G, 1A) gave the Monsters captain 13 multi-point games. Macias picked up his third multi-point game of the season with a goal and an assist.

Sauer ended the night making 26 saves on 29 shots while Larsson turned away 30 of 34 in the loss. With each team recording two penalty minutes apiece, the Monsters set a season low with four combined penalty minutes in a game. Grand Rapids’ two minutes spent in the box were the fewest a Monsters opponent has recorded this season and the Monsters set a season mark with just two minutes in the sin bin Saturday.

“I loved our third period,” said Lake Erie head coach David Quinn. “I thought we got ourselves in a little trouble in the first and second period, standing around too much. But I thought we really clamped down in the third period. That power play goal was huge and got us back our lead and it was a very good win. A much needed win.”

The Monsters return to the ice in less than 24 hours when they host the Griffins for the fourth and final time in the 2009-10 regular season at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (216) 420-0000, by visiting LakeErieMonsters.com or by visiting any Northern Ohio Discount Drug Mart.

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