GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
On Monday, for the fifth time in six playoff games between Grand Rapids and Manitoba, a team jumped out to a 3-0 lead before going on to victory. For the third time it was the Moose performing the feat, as they earned a 3-1 win over the Griffins to tie the North Division Finals at three games apiece.
The decisive Game 7 will be held Tuesday at Van Andel Arena. Faceoff is set for 7 p.m.
Maxime Ouellet stopped 35 of 36 shots for the Moose in relief of Wade Flaherty, who earned a rare one-save win after being spotted a 2-0 lead before leaving with an injury less than seven minutes into the contest.
The desperate Moose took the upper hand by scoring those two goals in the first four minutes of the game, on their first and fifth shots. Just 72 seconds in, Mike Brown found a wide-open Josh Green from behind the net, and the center who had missed the previous three games due to pneumonia beat Jimmy Howard from the right side.
The deficit quickly grew to 2-0 after another defensive breakdown, as Brett Skinner sent a pass across the slot to Lee Goren, who blistered a shot from the bottom of the left circle at 3:51. Griffins coach Greg Ireland called timeout in an attempt to settle his troops, but Manitoba soon struck for its third goal after the goaltender switch.
During a 4-on-3 power play, Green one-timed a feed from Sven Butenschon in the right circle that skidded along the ice and through Howard at 8:21, giving the visitors a 3-0 lead and a dominating 12-1 advantage in shots.
Jiri Hudler, the Griffins top playoff scorer, stopped the bleeding at the 10:32 mark. He took a blue line-to-blue line pass from Bryan Helmer and broke in alone on Ouellet, sending a wrist shot over his glove from the hashmarks.
Grand Rapids was presented a great chance to narrow the margin with 4:52 left in the frame, when Green was whistled off for a five-minute major and a game misconduct for slashing Terry Virtue. That advantage concluded with 51 seconds of a 5-on-3 that carried into the second period, but the Griffins still could not capitalize.
An exchange of penalties late in the middle frame resulted in the Griffins enjoying a 5-on-4 for a full three minutes, but they were unable to muster a single shot on Ouellet. The veteran netminder remained solid throughout the third period, making a brilliant, point-blank glove save on Valtteri Filppula and otherwise stifling Grand Rapids, which out-gunned Manitoba by a 36-7 margin after the early Moose barrage.
Howard made 16 saves for the Griffins, who will play just the second Game 7 in their history. Grand Rapids dropped a 2-1 home decision to Houston in the final game of the 2003 Western Conference Finals.