Darryl Bootland swept a loose puck home with 2:06 left in regulation as Grand Rapids stunned Manitoba and advanced to the Western Conference Final with a 5-4 victory in Game 7 on Tuesday night.
The Griffins will meet Milwaukee in the Western Conference Final, beginning Thursday night at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids.
The Griffins dominated the third period, outshooting the Moose by a 14-1 margin over the final 20 minutes.
Down 4-1, Grand Rapids got a goal from Bryan Helmer in the final second of the middle frame before Valtteri Filppula scored twice in the third to even things up.
Bootland got the winning goal after Derek Meech pinched in at the point and sent the puck down low to Jiri Hudler, who sent a cross-crease pass for his fifth assist of the night. Bootland finished with a goal and three assists.
Drew MacIntyre earned the victory in net for Grand Rapids, facing just one shot in his 22 minutes of work. Manitoba had opened up a three-goal lead by scoring three times in the second period and chasing starting goalie Jimmy Howard (19 saves).
The Griffins scored the first goal of the night as Matt Ellis banged home a pass on a delayed penalty 7:01 into the game.
Manitoba tied things up at 17:52 of the first when veteran Mike Keane took a pass from Josh Green at the top of the slot and wired a slap shot past Jimmy Howard.
The Moose struck on a power play when Kevin Bieksa’s screen shot found the net two minutes into the second period.
Jesse Schultz capitalized on a 2-on-1 break at the 4:35 mark and Jason King made it 4-1 with 2:08 left in the period.