Tony Voce (left) and Ryan Oulahen celebrate Voce's overtime winner.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Tony Voce banked in his second goal of the night from behind the net 4:20 into overtime on Friday to complete the Grand Rapids Griffins’ wild 4-3 comeback win over the Manitoba Moose and give them a three-games-to-two lead in their North Division Semifinal series.
After Eric Himelfarb tied the score with 49 seconds left in regulation while an extra attacker was on, a scramble behind the Manitoba net early in the extra session ended with Voce potting a shot off the back of Drew MacIntyre’s leg. The Griffins, who’ve now won their last five overtime decisions in the playoffs – including three straight against Manitoba – will have a chance to put away top-seeded Moose on Sunday in Game 6 at the MTS Centre. Game time is 8:30 p.m. EDT.
The Moose scored the first goal for the third straight game at Van Andel Arena, as Colby Genoway’s long-range shot from the right boards slipped through Jimmy Howard at the 6:05 mark of the opening period. But Voce, who netted the Griffins’ lone goal in Game 4, finished off a 2-on-1 by redirecting a perfect pass from Jan Mursak past MacIntyre at 12:19 to knot it at one. The assist was the first pro point for the 19-year-old Mursak, while Ryan Oulahen was also credited with a helper, his first point in 21 lifetime playoff games with Grand Rapids.
Manitoba regained the lead 1:11 into the middle period. Howard made the initial stop on Prestin Ryan followed by a nice left-pad save on Lee Goren, but Brad Moren rushed in from the right side and lifted the second rebound over the sprawled goalie. Once again Grand Rapids rallied, on a play almost identical to Genoway’s goal for the Moose. Moments after a Griffins power play expired, Jon Insana retrieved an errant shot along the right boards, skated to the half-wall and unleashed a wrister that sailed over MacIntyre’s left shoulder at 7:51.
Midway through the third period, Darryl Bootland was ejected and assessed a major penalty for slashing Jason Jaffray, presenting the Moose with five minutes of power play time. A subsequent high-sticking call against Himelfarb 2:30 into the advantage gave Manitoba a 5-on-3, and Jaffray quickly exacted his revenge by one-timing a Goren feed from the slot to put the Moose ahead 3-2 with 7:12 left in regulation.
The Griffins pulled Howard in favor of a sixth skater with just under two minutes remaining, and after Goren’s attempt at an empty net bounced off the right post with 90 seconds left, Grand Rapids would tie matters for the third time at the 19:11 mark. Kip Miller’s shot from the slot deflected out front, but Himelfarb put home the carom from the left side to force the second overtime session in the three series games at Van Andel Arena. It was Himelfarb’s first goal in 25 career playoff games with the Griffins.
Howard finished with 20 saves to improve to 4-0 all time in overtime games during the playoffs, while MacIntyre suffered his second overtime loss in five days despite making 43 stops.