TORONTO -- An injury to Spencer Abbott in the second period forced Toronto Marlies coach Steve Spott to move Brandon Kozun to the top line. The promotion paid off as Kozun picked up the insurance maker and the Marlies defeated the reigning Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids Griffins 4-1 on Friday,
"It was nice that we could slot him right up there and that was a huge goal because Grand Rapids was coming late," said Spott. "That seemed to quiet them a little bit because the fire power, the ability to turn over pucks in transition, they're going to come at you hard and that was a big goal by Brandon.
"I know he needed it personally, it's good for his confidence and it was a timely goal for our team."
Kozun restored Toronto's two-goal lead at 12:05 of the third period, beating Mrazek stick-side for his 13th of the season.
The goal was Kozun's third and seventh point in eight games since he was acquired from the Manchester Monarchs.
"Well when (injuries) happen, everyone's got to step up their game, play together as a team, I think this team has been doing it all year and you've got to play as a team to beat a team like that," said Kozun. "They're obviously the reigning champions and everyone came to play tonight and it was a good one.
T.J. Brennan, Josh Leivo and Jerry D'Amigo had the other goals for the Marlies, who won for the third time in four games.
The win moves Toronto (28-15-4) two points back of the second-place Griffins (29-15-4) in the AHL's Western Conference.
Landon Ferraro replied for Grand Rapids, which has just one win in the last five games.
Grand Rapids out-shot Toronto 34-12 in the final 40 minutes, but could not get another one past Drew MacIntyre, who made 41 saves for his league-leading 21st win of the season.
Petr Mrazek made 23 saves for the Griffins.
"You're playing the reigning Calder Cup champions and you know they're going to come, you're up two goals, you lose arguably your best forward in Spencer Abbott and a great shutdown player in Tyler Biggs so there is absolutely nothing left in the tank," said Spott.
"We have to go easy (Saturday) and we've got to find a way to, with our tank almost on E, to get another 60 minutes out of these guys on Sunday. There's not a lot left."
Brennan opened the scoring with his 20th goal of the season on the power play at 1:17 of the second period, beating Mrazek with a wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle.
With the goal, Brennan became the first defenceman to score 20 goals in a single season since Johnny Boychuck did it with the Providence Bruins in the 2008-2009 season.
The Marlies added to their lead at 4:01 of the period when Leivo stepped out of the corner and beat Mrazek from the slot for his 10th.
Ferraro pulled the Griffins to within one as he one-timed a Jeff Hoggan pass past MacIntyre at 8:20 of the second period
D'Amigo added an empty netter for his 10th of the season with 1:09 remaining.
In addition to Abbott, who left the game with a lower body injury, the Marlies also lost forward Biggs. Spott said he would have a better idea on the condition of both players Saturday.
Toronto was already without forward Sam Carrick, who sustained an upper body injury in Wednesday's shootout win over the San Antonio Rampage.