(CP) — The Toronto Marlies battled back from a two-goal deficit but couldn’t complete the comeback Wednesday night, losing 5-4 to the hometown Grand Rapids Griffins in Game 3 of the American Hockey League Western Conference semifinals.
The Griffins now own a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series entering Game 4 Friday night in Grand Rapids.
If Toronto had gained any momentum after a 4-2 home win in Game 2 that evened the series, it disappeared quickly after a dismal start.
The Marlies allowed a pair of goals in the first 5:45 of play as Grand Rapids pressured Toronto goalie Drew MacIntyre early.
Ryan Hamilton paid early dividends in his first game since joining the Marlies following the Maple Leafs’ Game 7 loss to Boston. He scored late in the first period to trim the Griffins’ lead to 2-1.
Grand Rapids took a 3-1 lead less than three minutes into the second period on a goal by Tomas Tatar, but the Marlies answered.
The Griffins regained the lead with under three minutes remaining in the second as Francis Pare pushed a shot over MacIntyre’s shoulder to put Grand Rapids ahead 4-3.
In the third, the Marlies gave up a goal to Jan Mursak 46 seconds in and again faced a two-goal hole.
Toronto was outshot 32-20 and MacIntyre finished with 28 saves.
Mrazek stopped 16 shots for the Griffins.