In less than 24 hours, the Western Conference Finals have taken a decided turn in Grand Rapids’ favor.
The Griffins scored three times in a span of 4:14 late in the second period and Petr Mrazek made 37 saves for his second consecutive shutout as Grand Rapids defeated Oklahoma City, 3-0, in Game 5 of the best-of-seven series on Sunday.
Combined with Saturday night’s 4-0 victory, the Griffins will bring a 3-2 series lead home with them, and will have a chance to advance to their first Calder Cup Finals with a victory in Game 6 on Tuesday.
Mrazek extended his shutout streak to 161:38, stopping 100 consecutive Barons shots during that stretch. The rookie netminder has become the 15th goaltender in AHL history to post back-to-back shutouts in the same playoff series.
Game 5 was scoreless for more than 35 minutes until Grand Rapids finally broke through. With 4:47 remaining in the second period, Tomas Jurco intercepted a pass from the Barons’ Andrew Hotham, skated in alone and beat Yann Danis high to the stick side for his fifth goal of the playoffs.
Tomas Tatar then made it 3-0 for the Griffins, taking a feed from Andersson and snapping a shot past the blocker of Danis (22 saves) from between the circles for a power-play goal with 32.7
seconds remaining in the second.
The Griffins clamped down in the third period to preserve the win, with Mrazek making several stops during a Barons flurry with less than eight minutes remaining and then Grand Rapids killing off 1:55 worth of a 5-on-3 power play.
The Griffins were 1-for-4 on the power play while holding the Barons to 0-for-6.
Western Conference Finals – Series “N” (best-of-7)
3-Grand Rapids Griffins vs. 5-Oklahoma City Barons
Game 1 – Fri., May 24 – GRAND RAPIDS 2, Oklahoma City 1
Game 2 – Sat., May 25 – Oklahoma City 4, GRAND RAPIDS 2
Game 3 – Wed., May 29 – OKLAHOMA CITY 4, Grand Rapids 1
Game 4 – Sat., June 1 – Grand Rapids 4, OKLAHOMA CITY 0
Game 5 – Sun., June 2 – Grand Rapids 3, OKLAHOMA CITY 0
Game 6 – Tue., June 4 – Oklahoma City at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 7 – Wed., June 5 – Oklahoma City at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern