Jiri Hudler scored on a power play 2:21 into the third overtime period to give Grand Rapids a 6-5 win over Toronto in Game 1 of the teams’ North Division semifinal series at Van Andel Arena on Friday night.
The teams go right back at it in Game 2 on Saturday.
The four-hour, five-minute marathon included 110 shots on goal, 63 of them by the host Griffins.
Grand Rapids trailed 4-2 heading into the third period, rallied to take a 5-4 lead, then saw Jeremy Williams force OT with 5:51 left in regulation.
League MVP Donald MacLean, who scored 56 times in the AHL regular season, scored twice in Game 1 for the Griffins. All-Rookie goaltender Jimmy Howard finished with 42 saves.
Aleksander Suglobov led the Marlies with two goals and an assist, and J.S. Aubin, who finished the regular season on a 9-0-2 run for the parent Maple Leafs, turned aside 57 shots in defeat.
MANCHESTER 6, HARTFORD 5 (2OT)
Jeff Giuliano scored his second goal of the game on a nifty individual effort 1:46 into the second overtime period, giving Manchester a 6-5 win over Hartford and a 2-1 lead in their Atlantic Division semifinal series.
The teams get a day to regroup before playing Game 4 on Sunday afternoon.
This was nearly the one that got away for the Monarchs, who led 5-2 in the third period before the Wolf Pack rallied to force OT. Ex-Monarch Brad Smyth scored the equalizer at the 19:01 mark of the third period.
Noah Clarke also scored twice for Manchester, Alexandre Daigle had four assists and Tim Jackman recorded three helpers.
Barry Brust made 45 saves in the win, including 16 in sudden-death time.
Dwight Helminen had a goal and two assists and Chad Wiseman dished out three helpers for the Wolf Pack, who raced out to a 2-0 lead before giving up the game’s next five goals.
It was the first overtime goal in the Monarchs’ postseason history (1-4).
HOUSTON 5, PEORIA 4 (OT)
Kirby Law‘s goal 4:51 into OT lifted Houston to a come-from-behind 5-4 win over visiting Peoria in Game 1 of their West Division semifinal playoff series on Friday.
The Rivermen look to square things up in Game 2 on Saturday.
While Law, the AHL’s regular-season scoring champion one of three Aeros to place in the top four, played the role of hero, the supporting cast set the stage as Houston rallied from a 4-2 deficit after two periods.
Bryan Lundbohm and Peter Olvecky scored 23 seconds apart early in the third period to even the score. Lundbohm and Joel Ward finished with a goal and an assist apiece, while Shawn Belle, a defenseman with two goals in 61 regular-season games, also found the back of the net.
Mike Zigomanis (2g, 1a), Lee Stempniak (3a) and David Backes (1g, 1a) led the Peoria offense.
HERSHEY 5, NORFOLK 2
Graham Mink scored three times in the second period as Hershey took a 2-0 series lead over Norfolk with a 5-2 victory over the Admirals at Scope on Friday night.
Game 3 is Saturday in Norfolk.
Mink’s first goal gave Hershey a 2-0 lead early in the second, and after the Admirals closed the deficit to one, the fifth-year pro scored twice more in a span of 69 seconds late in the frame.
They were the first three career playoff goals for Mink, who also assisted on Tomas Fleischmann’s second goal of the series. Fleischmann finished with a goal and two assists, Kris Beech had two assists and Dave Steckel added a goal for the Bears.
Frederic Cassivi stopped 31 shots for the win.
SYRACUSE 1, MANITOBA 0
Tyler Kolarik’s shorthanded goal with 2:08 left in the second period was all the offense needed as Syracuse opened its North Division semifinal series with a 1-0 victory over visiting Manitoba.
Game 2 is Saturday night in Syracuse.
Kolarik buried a rebound of a Ben Simon shot past Moose goaltender Wade Flaherty, who finished with 34 saves and a hard-luck loss.
Pascal Leclaire made 32 saves to earn the shutout and his second career Calder Cup Playoff win.
MILWAUKEE 3, IOWA 1
Brian Finley made 22 saves as Milwaukee shut down a surging Iowa team and took a 3-1 win from the Stars in Game 1 of their West Division semifinal on Friday.
Game 2 is Saturday in Milwaukee.
Rich Peverley, Steve Lingren and Simon Gamache scored for the Admirals, while Greg Classen and Darren Haydar each had two assists.
Mike Smith made 25 saves in the loss for the Stars, who had won 11 of their final 13 regular-season games.
B.J. Crombeen scored the lone goal for Iowa.