In less than 24 hours, the Western Conference Finals have taken a decided turn in Grand Rapids’ favor.
The Griffins scored three times in a span of 4:14 late in the second period and Petr Mrazek made 37 saves for his second consecutive shutout as Grand Rapids defeated Oklahoma City, 3-0, in Game 5 of the best-of-seven series on Sunday.
Combined with Saturday night’s 4-0 victory, the Griffins will bring a 3-2 series lead home with them, and will have a chance to advance to their first Calder Cup Finals with a victory in Game 6 on Tuesday.
Mrazek extended his shutout streak to 161:38, stopping 100 consecutive Barons shots during that stretch. The rookie netminder has become the 15th goaltender in AHL history to post back-to-back shutouts in the same playoff series.
Game 5 was scoreless for more than 35 minutes until Grand Rapids finally broke through. With 4:47 remaining in the second period, Tomas Jurco intercepted a pass from the Barons’ Andrew Hotham, skated in alone and beat Yann Danis high to the stick side for his fifth goal of the playoffs.
Just under two minutes later, the Griffins doubled their lead as Mitch Callahan redirected home a back-door pass from Joakim Andersson for a shorthanded goal with 2:48 to go in the period.
Tomas Tatar then made it 3-0 for the Griffins, taking a feed from Andersson and snapping a shot past the blocker of Danis (22 saves) from between the circles for a power-play goal with 32.7
seconds remaining in the second.
The Griffins clamped down in the third period to preserve the win, with Mrazek making several stops during a Barons flurry with less than eight minutes remaining and then Grand Rapids killing off 1:55 worth of a 5-on-3 power play.
The Griffins were 1-for-4 on the power play while holding the Barons to 0-for-6.
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 – Sat., June 1 – Grand Rapids 4, OKLAHOMA CITY 0
Game 5 – Sun., June 2 – Grand Rapids 3, OKLAHOMA CITY 0
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