Three first-period goals, including two in 71 seconds, were more than enough for the Oklahoma City Barons on Wednesday night as the hosts took a 2-1 series lead with a 4-1 win over the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Oklahoma City hosts Game 4 on Friday night.
After scoring three times in the third period of Game 2 on Saturday night, the Barons’ offense got right back to it early in Game 3. Sprung for a breakaway, Ben Eager blasted a slapshot from the top of the left-wing circle past Petr Mrazek at 7:14 to make it 1-0. It was Eager’s first goal in the AHL since Mar. 31, 2006.
Oklahoma City then capitalized on a slow Griffins line change and went up 3-0 as Brandon Davidson found a wide open Philippe Cornet, who one-timed a pass over a sprawling Mrazek with 3:25 left in the period.
The score remained 3-0 until late in the third period. Just moments after Mrazek was pulled for an extra attacker with five minutes left in regulation, Chad Billins‘ low shot from the right point deflected over the shoulder of Yann Danis to get Grand Rapids on the board.
Jonathan Cheechoo iced the win with an empty-netter from neutral ice at 18:43.
Danis stopped 20 of 21 shots on the night for Oklahoma City; Mrazek finished with 29 saves.
NOTES: The AHL and the Professional Hockey Players’ Association will donate all ticket revenue from Game 3 to the United Way’s OK Strong Disaster Relief Fund in the wake of last week’s deadly tornadoes in the Oklahoma City region… Barons forward Tanner House, who was knocked out by a Triston Grant hit in the second period, was reported by the Barons to have regained consciousness and alertness… Mark Arcobello was held without a point for Oklahoma City, ending his nine-game scoring streak.
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 – Fri., May 31 – Grand Rapids at Oklahoma City, 8:00
Game 5 – Sat., June 1 – Grand Rapids at Oklahoma City, 8:00
*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