(griffinshockey.com) — The Oklahoma City Barons on Saturday became the first team to outshoot the Grand Rapids Griffins during the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs and did so in impressive fashion, riding a 37-22 advantage to a 4-2 win at Van Andel Arena to knot the Western Conference Finals at one game apiece.
After Tomas Tatar gave the Griffins a 1-0 lead late in the first period, the Barons responded by scoring four of the next five goals, including an empty-netter in the final minute.
Grand Rapids, which eventually won five of its previous eight best-of-seven series which were tied 1-1, will now visit the Cox Convention Center for three straight contests, beginning with Game 3 on Wednesday.
The Barons outshot the Griffins by a 12-6 count in the opening period, but it was Grand Rapids that went to the locker room with a 1-0 lead. Brett Skinner sent a long pass up the right side to Tatar, who sped into the Oklahoma City zone and threaded a quick wrist shot inside Yann Danis’ far post at 17:14. Tatar’s ninth goal of the playoffs put him in sole possession of third on the team’s single-postseason goals list and tied him for sixth on the Griffins all time in playoff goals.
Oklahoma City’s abundance of shots paid dividends during a power play 6:38 into the second. Josh Green flung a puck on net from the point that hit a body out front, and C.J. Stretch was waiting at the left post to pop it into the net.
The Barons started the third period with 52 seconds of power play time that the Griffins successfully killed off, but the visitors took advantage of a defensive lapse seconds later to grab their first lead of the series at 2-1. Four Griffins marked Toni Rajala as he carried the puck into the Griffins’ zone, and he sent a pass across to the right circle to a wide-open Teemu Hartikainen for a blistering one-timer past Petr Mrazek at the 1:03 mark.
Mitch Callahan tied matters for Grand Rapids at 2:58. Sprung into the Barons’ zone by a Brennan Evans pass, Callahan maintained a step on his defender and kept him at bay before slipping a shot past Danis from close range.
Once again the Barons went ahead, though, as Mark Arcobello got his stick on a Philippe Cornet centering pass at the top of the crease, deflecting the puck up over Mrazek at 7:45 for his league-leading 10th goal of the playoffs and a 3-2 lead. Hartikainen added the empty-netter with 24 seconds left for the final margin.
The Griffins failed on their lone power play chance while ceding one goal to the Barons in three opportunities. Mrazek finished his strong performance with 33 saves – matching his season high set against Oklahoma City on Jan. 23 – but Danis earned the victory with 20 stops.
Notes: Over their first 34 playoff periods, including the first frame of last night’s Game 1 victory, the Griffins were outshot only five times. The Barons have since outgunned Grand Rapids for five straight periods … A remarkable lose-one, win-two playoff pattern continues for the Griffins, who since falling to Houston in Game 1 of the conference quarterfinals have answered every defeat with exactly two wins before losing again.