Calder Cup Playoffs – Western Conference Finals – Game 4 – Series Tied, 2-2
GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 4 at Oklahoma City Barons 0
June 1, 2013
OKLAHOMA CITY – Petr Mrazek set a Griffins playoff record for saves in a shutout with 40 and Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson made an immediate impact in their return from the Detroit Red Wings, as Grand Rapids earned a 4-0 win over the Oklahoma City Barons in Game 4 on Saturday at the Cox Convention Center.
After wrestling back home-ice advantage and tying the Western Conference Finals at two games apiece, the Griffins will play a third and final game in Oklahoma City on Sunday at 5 p.m. EDT, a contest that was rescheduled from Friday due to the severe storms that rocked central Oklahoma. Grand Rapids will then return to Van Andel Arena on Tuesday to host Game 6 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at griffinshockey.com.
Andersson and Nyquist paid dividends just 12:08 into the contest. With the Griffins controlling the action in the Barons’ end during a power play, Nyquist sent a pass from the top of the right circle down low to Andersson, who grabbed it to the right of the net, stepped out front and whipped a shot past Yann Danis.
For Andersson, who had not appeared in a Griffins uniform since Feb. 6, it marked his first point for Grand Rapids in exactly four months (0-2—2, Feb. 1 at HAM) and his first goal since a season-high four-point night on Jan. 19 at Rockford (1-3—4).
Riley Sheahan made it a 2-0 game less than two minutes into the second period. Tomas Jurco tracked down a loose puck along the end boards and quickly fed it out front to a streaking Francis Pare, whose try for the top right corner was denied by Danis. But Sheahan crashed the crease from the left slide to knock home the rebound at the 1:57 mark.
The lead increased to three at 8:25. Chad Billins made a pass out of his zone to Tomas Tatar, who headmanned the puck up the left side. He pulled up just inside the Oklahoma City line and dropped the puck over to Billins, who maneuvered down the slot before sending a pass across to a wide-open Landon Ferraro for an easy redirection from the doorstep.
The Barons momentarily thought they had solved Mrazek during a power play with just under five minutes remaining in the second, but the referees initially ruled and subsequently confirmed via replay that the puck was kicked over the goal line by C.J. Stretch.
Mrazek continued to pile up saves in the third period as Grand Rapids was outshot 15-5, and after the Barons had pulled Danis and incurred a penalty, Jan Mursak scored an empty-net, power play goal with 1:49 left for the final margin.
Not only was it Mrazek’s third shutout of this postseason, but his 40 saves were also the third-most ever for a Griffins goalie in a shutout, including the regular season. Jimmy Howard made 43 on Jan. 24, 2009 vs. Quad City (1-0 SOW), while Neil Little made 41 on Dec. 26, 1998 at Michigan (4-0).
Grand Rapids’ special teams had a big hand in the victory, with the power play converting both attempts and the penalty kill denying all four Barons chances.
Danis finished with 28 saves.
Notes: The Griffins played just their fourth game in the month of June in franchise history. During the 2000 IHL Turner Cup Finals against Chicago, they played home games on the 1st and 5th and a road game on the 3rd…The winner of this series will take on Syracuse in the Calder Cup Finals. The Crunch claimed the Eastern Conference championship with a 7-0 victory in Game 5 against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins tonight…Over their first 34 playoff periods, including the first frame of their Game 1 victory over Oklahoma City, the Griffins were outshot only five times. The Barons subsequently outgunned Grand Rapids for nine straight periods until the Griffins finished tonight’s second period with a 14-11 edge.
Three Stars: 1. GR Mrazek (W, 40 saves, SO); 2. GR Tatar (assist); 3. GR Billins (two assists)