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Canadian Press
Dec 9, 2006, 7:47 PM EST


TORONTO (CP) - A stellar performance from Jimmy Howard and a strange goal from Josh Langfield squandered a strong performance from the Toronto Marlies Saturday.

Howard made 39 saves and Langfeld scored from a bad angle early in the third period as the Grand Rapids Griffins downed the Toronto Marlies 2-1 in American Hockey League action.

"We didn't bury our opportunities," said Marlies coach Greg Gilbert. "We had a good work ethic tonight . . . It's tough to lose on a goal like that, but you have to learn from it and move on."

Centre Matt Ellis scored for the Griffins early in the first period, but it was Langfeld's goal at 2:45 of the third period on a harmless-looking play that proved to be the difference.

Defenceman Kyle Quincey sent the puck to Langfeld at the bottom of the right faceoff circle, and he turned around and

wristed a low shot that hit Racine's stick and went in.

"We played an awesome game tonight," Racine said. "I shouldn't have given up that second goal, but I'll battle back from it."

Left winger Alex Foster provided the lone goal for Toronto in front of 2,635 fans at Ricoh Coliseum.

Grand Rapids improved to 11-11-4 with the win to move into eighth place - the final playoff position - in the Western

Conference. The game was the second in a home-and-home series between the North Division rivals.

The Marlies nipped the Griffins 3-2 in Grand Rapids on Friday night, but fell to 10-13-4 after Saturday's loss.

"We've got to keep working hard," Racine said. "We had 40 shots on goal tonight, we've got to keep it going like that and try to get things turned around."

Racine stopped 18 of 20 shots as his personal record dropped below .500 to 5-6-2. Howard improved to 10-8-1 in a game that saw him make several key saves, including stops on two short-handed breakaways by the Marlies.

Grand Rapids was 0-for-5 on the power play, while Toronto

went 0-for-7 with the man advantage. The Marlies had a few distinct opportunities on the power play, such as an extended 5-on-3 advantage in the first period and a five-minute man advantage in the second period after Grand Rapids' Darryl Bootland was handed a major and game misconduct for slashing Marlies centre Kris Newbury.

Toronto forwards Boyd Devereaux and Robbie Earl also had great chances on a late power play after Langfeld was sent off at 17:42 of the third for tripping, but Howard was up to the challenge.

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