Griffins ground Aeros, advance

Game 5

After dropping Game 4 on home ice last night, the Grand Rapids Griffins responded with an exclamation point and advanced to the second round with a 7-0 win over the Houston Aeros at Van Andel Arena on Saturday.

Grand Rapids moves on to face Toronto in the conference semifinals, beginning Friday night.

The seven-goal margin tied the largest ever in a winner-take-all Calder Cup Playoff match; the Quebec Aces defeated the Providence Reds, 8-1, in Game 5 of a league semifinal series in 1969.

Tomas Tatar had two goals and an assist to lead the Griffins’ offense. Francis Pare, Adam Almquist and Teemu Pulkkinen added a goal and an assist apiece, and Riley Sheahan and Jan Mursak also scored.

Grand Rapids scored once in the first period before erupting for four goals in the second to effectively put the game and the series out of reach.

Petr Mrazek made 24 saves, becoming just the 10th goaltender in AHL history to post a shutout in a winner-take-all playoff game.

Mike Condon finished with 34 stops for the Aeros, whose 12-year run in the American Hockey League comes to an end. The Minnesota Wild will ice its top affiliate in Des Moines, Iowa, beginning next season.