Griffins Outlast Marlies in 5-4 Win|
Home team takes 2-1 lead in best of seven series...
By Jason Kasiorek
May 15th, 2013
Grand Rapids got out to an early lead, but had to outlast several Toronto rallies to hold on for an exciting 5-4 win. Almquist (3) and Hoggan (2) staked the Griffins to a 2-0 lead in the first 6 minutes of the game before Hamilton answered for Toronto. Tatar (6) extended the lead to two again before Toronto tied it back up. Pare (2) and Mursak (3) restored the two goal cushion, but Ashton and a disallowed goal just about wiped it out again. Mrazek got the win despite a less than stellar outing stopping 16 of 20 shots.
Grand Rapids came out with a lot of jump, carrying play and establishing an early lead. Almquist fired a shot from the point that got by MacIntyre to put the Griffins on the board just under four minutes into the game. Two minutes later Hoggan fired a bad angle shot from the goal line as he headed into the corner the went in off MacIntyre for a 2-0 lead. Halfway through the period Grand Rapids sported a 13-2 shot advantage. Toronto started to win some of the board battles and the Griffins were clearly back on their heels. Hamilton with a wraparound attempt found Mrazek cheating off the post and tucked the puck into a gap between his skate and the post to cut the lead to one. Momentum shifted big time and the Griffins didn't get another shot the rest of the period, spending most of their time in their own end trying to keep the puck out of the net. Shots on Goal: GR 13 - Tor 9.
Sheahan had the puck deep in the Marlies zone and was looking for an open winger, Tatar in the opposite circle was tapping his stick and calling for the puck. Sheahan threaded a pass to him and Tatar showed great patience, holding the puck forever before picking his corner to restore the 2 goal lead. It was shortlived however as Abbot took advantage of a bad bounce on a Billins shot off the endboards, sniping an unassisted goal right in front of Mrazek. The Marlies tied things up midway through the period when Abbot walked right around Billins and hit McKegg at the net who popped the puck in over Mrazek for a powerplay goal. Tempers really flaring at this point as scrums are breaking out after every whistle. Tatar missed a rip at a wide open net on a nice setup by Ferraro. Griffins digging in as the had a huge penalty kill to keep the scored knotted at three. Mrazek came way out of the net to win a footrace for an errant puck and clear it the length of the ice. Skinner made a great play to hold the puck in at the line and feed it to Tatar for a great scoring chance. Sheahan had a pop at the rebound and Pare came late to fire it over MacIntyre for a powerplay goal. Shots on Goal: GR 10 - Tor 7.
Less than a minute into the third, Ferraro went end to end, beat a defender and dished to Mursak in front. Mursak roofed it for a 5-3 lead. Ashton cut the lead to one again, when he stroked a shot from below the circles past Mrazek stick-side. Billins coughed up the puck at the line on a Griffins powerplay allowing a Marlies 2-1. The rookie blueliner just got back enough to poke the puck away into the corner. Lashoff got boarded hard in the corner and remained on the ice for several minutes, before leaving the game for the trainers room. Connolly only got two minutes for the egregious hit. It appeared that Toronto may have scored a shorty late in the period, but it was reviewed and ruled no goal. The Griffins on a late powerplay, but can't get the puck out of their end as the Marlies press for the equalizer. MacIntyre to the bench with just over a minute left, but Grand Rapids was able to hold on and clear the puck to preserve the one goal margin of victory 5-4. Shots on Goal: GR 9 - Tor 4. For the Game: GR 32 - Tor 20.
Jurco - Ferraro - Pulkkinen/Callahan
Tatar - Sheahan/Ferraro - Pare
Hoggan - Glendening - Mursak
Grant - Aubry - Callahan/Pulkkinen
Skinner - Lashoff
Paetsch - Almquist
Evans - Billins
Jurco - Glendening - Tatar
Skinner - Billins
Hoggan/Sheahan - Ferraro - Pare
Almquist - Paetsch
Glendening/Mursak - Callahan
Evans - Lashoff
Ferraro - Sheahan
Almquist - Paetsch
Jurco stood out again tonight and his confidence was clear form the pre-game skate. He used his big body to smoke several Marlies along the boards. He also had the dangle working to full effect, weaving in and out of bodies and taking the puck to the net. I can't believe he didn't end up on the scoresheet at the end of the night.
His line with Ferraro and Callahan was particularly effective and did a great job of cycling the puck and keeping it deep.
Lashoff had a strong outing, and just looked like he had all the time in the world to make the right play instead of rushing. You can see the improvement in his game after his stay in the NHL.
Mursak was a big piece for the Griffins this game, not forgetting his goal (the game-winner), he was particularly effective defensively, picking the marlies pocket on the forecheck several times. His play with Glendening and Hoggan set the tone for the team with its hard work and forechecking pressure. They were rewarded with a couple of goals.
Mrazek did not have a bad night, but really did not look as strong as he has in most of the other games he played. He usually follows a bad outing with a strong one, so hopefully Friday night he comes out with his best stuff.
Pulkkinen got into the coaches doghouse early in the game and did not see a lot of ice, losing his spot with Jurco and Ferraro after not being able to clear the puck despite having a lot of time and room. He had the same problem later in the game while playing with Grant and Aubry. The team needs his offense, so he needs to get the defense under control so he can see the ice.
Billins had a tough night with the puck. He had several turnovers and was not particularly effective defensively all night.