Griffins take it to Stars in Game 3

The defending champions aren’t going down without a fight.

Tomas Jurco recorded his second career hat trick to lead Grand Rapids to a 5-2 win over Texas in Game 3 of the teams’ Western Conference semifinal series at Van Andel Arena on Tuesday night.

The Stars still hold a 2-1 lead in the series with Game 4 set for Wednesday night.

Jurco got the game’s first goal 7:06 into the first period when he dug a puck free behind the Texas net and tucked it in on a wraparound to give the Griffins a 1-0 lead.

Jurco made it 2-0 on a power play at 13:44, one-timing home a cross-ice pass from Riley Sheahan.

Grand Rapids opened up a 3-0 lead on the first shift of the second period as Andrej Nestrasil took a behind-the-back pass from Teemu Pulkkinen and slid a shot between the pads of Jack Campbell at 25 seconds of the frame.

Pulkkinen gave the Griffins a 4-0 advantage on a slap shot from the right-wing circle at 8:23, chasing Campbell from the Stars crease in favor of Cristopher Nilstorp.

Jurco completed the hat trick with 3:53 left in the second, banging home his third goal of the night from the doorstep to the left of Nilstorp.

Mike Hedden and Brendan Ranford — who has now scored a goal in five consecutive games — tallied for the Stars in the third period for the final 5-2 margin.

Petr Mrazek stopped 35 of 37 shots in the win for the Griffins, who handed Texas its first regulation loss on the road in nearly three months (Feb. 17). Pulkkinen (1g, 2a) and Cory Emmerton (3a) joined Jurco with three points each.

Campbell, who played the third period after Nilstorp finished the second, allowed four goals on 19 shtos overall. Nilstorp stopped two of the three shots he faced.

NOTES: Texas captain Maxime Fortunus played his 100th career Calder Cup Playoff game, the 16th skater ever to reach that mark… Jurco scored three goals vs. Rockford on Nov. 15, 2013.

Western Conference Semifinals – Series “K” (best-of-7)
1-Texas Stars vs. 4-Grand Rapids Griffins
| Series Snapshot
Game 1 – Thu., May 8 – TEXAS 5, Grand Rapids 2
Game 2 – Sat., May 10 – TEXAS 4, Grand Rapids 0 
Game 3 – Tue., May 13 – GRAND RAPIDS 5, Texas 2
Game 4 – Wed., May 14 – Texas at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 5 – Fri., May 16 – Texas at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sun., May 18 – Grand Rapids at Texas, 8:00
*Game 7 – Mon., May 19 – Grand Rapids at Texas, 8:30
   *if necessary… All times Eastern