05/17/2013 7:40 PM
Calder Cup Playoffs – Western Conference Semifinals – Game 4 – Grand Rapids Leads Series, 3-1
Toronto Marlies 1 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 4
May 17, 2013
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins pushed the Toronto Marlies to the brink on Friday night with a 4-1 victory at Van Andel Arena, taking a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Landon Ferraro banked the game-winning goal off a Marlies defenseman and past former Griffin Drew MacIntyre with less than 10 minutes remaining, a rare reward for the home team on a night in which Grand Rapids outshot Toronto by a 2-to-1 margin (36-18).
The Griffins will have a chance to close out the Marlies and advance to their first conference finals in seven years on Saturday when they host Game 5 at 7 p.m.
The Griffins owned the first period, outshooting Toronto 13-4, but found themselves down 1-0 at the intermission thanks to missed opportunities and one defensive lapse. Players from both teams rang shots off the iron – Mike Zigomanis of the Marlies and later Francis Pare – and the Griffins failed to capitalize on three power play chances, including 50 seconds of a 5-on-3. Instead, with 1:55 left in the period, Carter Ashton flung a shot on net from the left corner that somehow found room between Petr Mrazek’s pads, giving Toronto the lead.
Grand Rapids finally cashed in on its fourth man-advantage at the 5:15 mark of the second to knot the score. Carrying the puck down the left side on a 2-on-1 rush, Luke Glendening sent a feed across the slot that was disrupted by Marlies defenseman Mike Mottau, but Tomas Jurco quickly found the wayward puck and whipped it past MacIntyre.
The Griffins continued to dominate the play and the shots, finishing the frame with a 27-12 cushion, but MacIntyre was brilliant for the visitors, stopping several point-blank tries during a Griffins power play in the last few seconds of the period to keep it a 1-1 game.
It took just past the midpoint of the third and their 32nd shot for the Griffins to go on top. With MacIntyre scrambling back into position after misplaying the puck behind the net, Ferraro tracked down the puck along the end boards. He tried sending a pass out front to Jurco, and the puck hit Marlies defenseman Dylan Yeo and caromed over the line at 10:13.
Toronto had a great chance to tie it with under eight minutes remaining when the puck sat loose behind Mrazek during a scrum, but Brennan Evans swept it out of harm’s way before any Toronto skater could get to it.
The Marlies called timeout and pulled MacIntyre with 1:32 remaining in a last-ditch effort for the equalizer, and Jeff Hoggan (19:07) and Jan Mursak (19:24) both scored into the empty net in the final minute to salt away the Griffins’ victory.
MacIntyre truly deserved a better fate after stopping 32 of 34 shots on the night, but Mrazek earned the win by making 17 saves, allowing no more than a single goal for the third time in the last five games.
Notes: The Griffins own a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven series for the fourth time in their history, and they’ve gone on to win the series on each prior occasion, clinching twice in Game 5 and once in Game 6. In their only other such series as members of the AHL, they defeated the Marlies in five games in the 2006 North Division Semifinals.
Three Stars: 1. GR Ferraro (game-winning goal, assist); 2. GR Jurco (power play goal, assist); 3. TOR MacIntyre (L, 32 saves)