A single point isn’t good enough for goaltender Jussi Rynnas.
Gustav Nyquist had two goals in regulation and scored in the shootout as the Grand Rapids Griffins beat the host Toronto Marlies 4-3 on Sunday afternoon in American Hockey League action.
“I don’t play for a shootout,” said Rynnas, who was getting his second start in as many days. “I play for wins so that’s why I’m not so happy today. But after all it was a pretty good game.”
Tomas Jurco and Brendan Smith also scored for the Griffins in the shootout while all three shooters for the Marlies missed their opportunities in front of 4,324 fans at Ricoh Coliseum in what was Toronto’s last home game for almost a month.
Leo Komarov, Mike Kostka and Korbinian Holzer scored for Toronto (2-2-1).
Tomas Tatar had the other regulation goal for Grand Rapids (1-2-1), which picked up its first win of the season.
The Marlies were playing their third game in two and a half days so most of the players were happy with Sunday’s performance.
“I think we’re a pretty fit group and it’s good to walk away with at least a point,” said forward Nazem Kadri. “Maybe we should have had that game but I honestly thought everyone played pretty good tonight.”
Tom McCollum stopped 21 shots for the win as Rynnas made 29 saves in a losing cause.
The Griffins went 2-for-6 on the power play while the Marlies failed to score on six chances with the man advantage —including an extended two-man advantage in the second period.
Despite giving up two power-play goals, some solid defending kept Toronto in the game late as regulation ended with a late flurry of penalties.
On one occasion, Kadri seemed to be the victim of a knee-on-knee hit but the Marlies’ forward was the one who was given an extra roughing penalty for jumping into a scrum. Toronto’s Marc Fraser and Brennan Evans picked up fighting majors on the same stoppage of play.
“How he ends up in the penalty box, I’m not quite sure,” admitted Marlies’ head coach Dallas Eakins. “I got an explanation but I just feel sometimes I’m not watching the same game the refs are. They have a tough job, things happen quickly but [Kadri] going in the box and us being short was very strange to me.”
Komarov’s goal at 17:36 of the first period was the only goal of the opening 20 minutes. He started the rush at his own blue-line and after sending a cross-ice pass to Joe Colborne he pushed up ice and was in perfect position to fire it home when Colborne returned the puck.
Kostka gave Toronto a temporary two-goal lead almost five minutes into the second. He took a pass from Kenny Ryan at the blue-line, skated towards the middle of the ice and let his shot go. The puck eluded McCollum, who couldn’t see through the traffic in front of his net.
Grand Rapids got their first of two power-play goals in the second when Nyquist took a pass just inside the right face-off circle from Tatar. With plenty of space to work in, Nyquist stepped into the slot and snapped a quick shot past Rynnas to reduce the deficit to one.
Toronto restored its two-goal advantage largely thanks to getting traffic in front of McCollom. At 11:13 of the second, Holzer blasted a shot from the point that deflected off a Griffins’ skater in front and past a helpless McCollum, who didn’t seem to see it.
The Griffins made it 3-2 at 16:27 when Tatar took a pass from Chad Billins, spun to his backhand and went high to beat Rynnas on his glove side.
Grand Rapids tied the game in the third when Nyquist scored off a rebound.
The Marlies will play their next eight games on the road before returning to the Ricoh Coliseum on November 17th when they will host the Hamilton Bulldogs.
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