Oliver Bjorkstrand scored a power-play goal 12:23 into overtime to give the Lake Erie Monsters a 3-2 win over Grand Rapids in Game 1 of the Central Division Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday night.
Game 2 is set for Saturday afternoon in Cleveland (noon ET, AHL Live).
Bjorkstrand one-timed a cross-ice pass from Alex Broadhurst under the crossbar behind Tom McCollum to give the Monsters a wild victory. Lake Erie survived a penalty shot attempt in the final minute of regulation, an apparent Grand Rapids goal waved off on video review early in OT, and a Griffins power play chance later in the extra session.
After a scoreless first period, Grand Rapids netted the first goal of the series when Eric Tangradi banged home a rebound of Robbie Russo’s shot 58 seconds into the middle frame. It was Tangradi’s first goal of the 2016 playoffs, and his ninth goal in 11 games vs. Lake Erie this year.
Exactly seven minutes later, Broadhurst gave the Monsters the lead with a power-play goal that just trickled past McCollum, but the Griffins evened things back up at 16:11 when Brian Lashoff went end-to-end on a shorthanded rush and snapped a shot past the glove hand of Joonas Korpisalo.
The third period was scoreless as well, although Grand Rapids had a chance to win with 35.7 seconds remaining. Korpisalo was ruled to have intentionally displaced the Monsters net, but Andy Miele failed to convert on the ensuing penalty shot.
The Griffins then thought they had the game won 1:03 into overtime, but an official video review determined that Tangradi had directed the puck in with his glove. Less than a minute after killing off Grand Rapids’ fourth power play of the night, Lake Erie got its own man advantage and Bjorkstrand fired home his third goal of the postseason to give the Monsters the 1-0 series lead.
Korpisalo (4-0) made 22 saves in the win, while McCollum (3-1) stopped 36 of 39 shots in defeat.
Central Division Finals – Series “K” (best-of-7)
C2-Lake Erie Monsters vs. C4-Grand Rapids Griffins
Game 1 – Thu., May 5 – LAKE ERIE 3, Grand Rapids 2 (OT)
Game 2 – Sat., May 7 – Grand Rapids at Lake Erie, 12:00
Game 3 – Sun., May 8 – Lake Erie at Grand Rapids, 4:00
Game 4 – Tue., May 10 – Lake Erie at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., May 14 – Grand Rapids at Lake Erie, 7:00
*Game 6 – Mon., May 16 – Lake Erie at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 7 – Tue., May 17 – Grand Rapids at Lake Erie, 7:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern
— AHL (@TheAHL) May 6, 2016