GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (theahl.com) … The Syracuse Crunch were heading back to upstate New York after tonight’s game regardless of the outcome.
Now, they’re bringing the Grand Rapids Griffins with them.
Ondrej Palat had a goal and two assists and Cedrick Desjardins made 40 saves in his finest performance of these Calder Cup Playoffs as the Crunch defeated the Griffins, 5-2, in Game 5 of the Calder Cup Finals at a sold-out Van Andel Arena on Saturday.
Staving off elimination for a second consecutive night, the Crunch cut the Griffins’ series lead to 3-2 with Game 6 (Tuesday at 7 ET) and Game 7 (if necessary, Thursday at 7 ET) back in Syracuse.
Just as they did in Game 4 on Friday, Syracuse got a power play in the first minute of the game but could not convert.
Then at 8:39, the Crunch grabbed a 1-0 lead when Palat forced a Grand Rapids turnover, brought the puck in front and slipped it past Petr Mrazek.
Grand Rapids answered quickly as Triston Grant banged home a rebound at 17:38 for his second goal of the playoffs and of the series.
The Griffins owned a 13-9 edge in shots in the first period, but trailed 2-1 at the intermission.
The Griffins kept the pressure on Cedrick Desjardins and the Crunch, outshooting them 14-3 over the first 10:41 of the second period. But a Landon Ferraro tripping penalty sent Syracuse to the power play and Richard Panik scored his fourth goal of the Finals and eighth of the playoffs at 11:59 to put the Crunch up for good.
Grand Rapids outshot Syracuse 20-5 in the second period but still trailed 3-2, and the Crunch re-upped the lead to two goals when Johnson netted his first goal of the Finals just 36 seconds into the third.
Dan Sexton finished off the scoring with an empty-net goal at 17:16.
Desjardins, whose previous high this postseason had been 28 saves, stopped 12 shots in the first period, 19 in the second and nine more in the third for his first 40-save effort since he made 42 stops for Hamilton on Feb. 6.
Palat led the Crunch offense with three points, while Johnson notched a goal and an assist and Mark Barberio tallied two assists.
Mrazek finished the night with 17 saves on 21 shots for Grand Rapids.
NOTES: Syracuse, 2-for-23 on the power play in the first four games of the series, was 2-for-5 in Game 5… The Crunch are the first team in AHL history to win two road elimination games in the same Calder Cup Finals series, and the second to force a Game 6 after losing the first three games of a Final (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton vs. Chicago, 2008)… Syracuse finished 7-1 on the road this postseason; Grand Rapids went 7-6 at home… Including capacity crowds of 10,834 for Games 4 and 5, the three games at Van Andel Arena drew a total of 31,770 fans.
2013 Calder Cup Finals – Series “O” (best-of-7)
E3-Syracuse Crunch vs. W3-Grand Rapids Griffins
Game 1 – Sat., June 8 – Grand Rapids 3, SYRACUSE 1
Game 2 – Sun., June 9 – Grand Rapids 6, SYRACUSE 4
Game 3 – Wed., June 12 – GRAND RAPIDS 4, Syracuse 2
Game 4 – Fri., June 14 – Syracuse 3, GRAND RAPIDS 2
Game 5 – Sat., June 15 – Syracuse 5, GRAND RAPIDS 2
Game 6 – Tue., June 18 – Grand Rapids at Syracuse, 7:00
*Game 7 – Thu., June 20 – Grand Rapids at Syracuse, 7:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern