GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (theahl.com) — The Grand Rapids Griffins are one win away from their first Calder Cup title after a 4-2 win over the Syracuse Crunch in Game 3 of the American Hockey League’s championship series on Wednesday night.
Jan Mursak broke a 2-2 tie with 4:49 left in regulation to help stake the Griffins to a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven Calder Cup Finals. Grand Rapids goes for the sweep when it hosts Game 4 on Friday night (7 ET, AHL Live, SiriusXM NHL Network Radio, ESPN America).
After dropping the first two games of the series at home, Syracuse struck first in Game 3. Richard Panik gave the Crunch their first lead of the series at 10:21 of the first period, taking a feed from Tyler Johnson, stepping around a Grand Rapids defender and wristing a shot past Petr Mrazek. It was the sixth goal of the playoffs for Panik.
Tomas Tatar evened things up on a wraparound 2:09 into the second period, collecting Nathan Paetsch‘s point shot behind the net and tucking it behind Cedrick Desjardins to make it 1-1. For Tatar, it was his league-leading 13th goal of the postseason.
Luke Glendening gave Grand Rapids the lead less than three minutes later, collecting a loose puck off a scramble in front and depositing it for his sixth goal of the playoffs at 4:53.
Syracuse made it 2-2 at 9:56 of the second as Dan Sexton‘s long wrister from the blue line changed direction and knuckled past Mrazek for his fifth goal of the playoffs.
Desjardins made a pair of huge saves in the third to preserve the tie. Tomas Jurco had a chance alone in front with 12:45 remaining and Desjardins denied him with a spread-eagle pad save, and Gustav Nyquist was sprung on a breakaway with 9:25 to play only to be turned away by the Crunch netminder.
Grand Rapids finally broke through with 4:49 to go as captain Jeff Hoggan came out from behind the net and sent a shot towards the cage that Mursak deflected past Desjardins for his 10th postseason goal.
The Griffins tacked on an insurance goal with 2:28 to play when Hoggan grabbed the puck off a Crunch turnover, drove to the net and beat Desjardins to make it 4-2.
Mrazek (14-7) made 26 saves for his sixth win in the Griffins’ last seven games. Desjardins (11-4) finished with 25 stops.
Attendance at Van Andel Arena was 10,102, the largest crowd in Griffins AHL playoff history.
2013 Calder Cup Finals – Series “O” (best-of-7)
E3-Syracuse Crunch vs. W3-Grand Rapids Griffins
Game 1 – Sat., June 8 – Grand Rapids 3, SYRACUSE 1
Game 2 – Sun., June 9 – Grand Rapids 6, SYRACUSE 4
Game 3 – Wed., June 12 – GRAND RAPIDS 4, Syracuse 2
Game 4 – Fri., June 14 – Syracuse at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., June 15 – Syracuse at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 6 – Tue., June 18 – Grand Rapids at Syracuse, 7:00
*Game 7 – Thu., June 20 – Grand Rapids at Syracuse, 7:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern