05/18/2006 9:23 PM
- GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
After weathering a Grand Rapids storm during the second period on Thursday, the Milwaukee Admirals scored twice off turnovers early in the third to spark a 4-0 win over the Griffins in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals at Van Andel Arena.
Pekka Rinne made 36 saves to become the first netminder since 2004 and the fifth all time to post a playoff shutout against the Griffins, while Darren Haydar tallied twice to increase his AHL-high goal total to 12. Grand Rapids only other shutout in 93 games played this season was a 5-0 loss at Toronto on Dec. 14, in the 28th game of the regular season.
The Griffins, who dug themselves out of an identical 0-1 hole in the previous round against Manitoba, will host Game 2 of this best-of-seven series on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Drew MacIntyre, who entered the night leading all AHL playoff goalies with a 1.20 GAA and a 0.954 save percentage, started for the Griffins and shepherded them through three Admirals power plays during the first period. His 11 saves were countered by seven stops for Rinne, resulting in the first scoreless opening period for a Griffins game this postseason.
Grand Rapids came out flying in the second period, dominating play to the tune of a 17-6 advantage in shots, but a pair of early Admirals power plays helped to temper the Griffins momentum. When finally awarded two power plays of their own late in the period, the Griffins applied consistent pressure in the Milwaukee zone but remained unable to solve Rinne, keeping zeroes on the board through 40 minutes.
The Admirals capitalized on a lackluster Grand Rapids shift to score the games first goal 2:01 into the third period. After the Griffins had been unable to clear their zone, Brett Lebda had his pocket picked behind the net by Chris Durno, who skated out to the bottom of the right circle and flung a shot that somehow squeezed between MacIntyre and the right post.
A giveaway in the left circle resulted in a 2-0 Milwaukee lead at 7:12. Greg Zanon quickly sent a pass into the slot to a streaking Haydar, who slapped a shot through MacIntyres pads. Just over five minutes later, MacIntyre made a solid save on Greg Classen, but Haydar raced to the rebound and popped it over the netminder at the 12:25 mark. Simon Gamache added an empty-netter with 1:11 left, setting a record for most goals allowed by the Griffins in a home playoff period.
MacIntyre deserved a better fate, finishing with 27 saves and backstopping a penalty killing unit that denied all five Admirals chances. Grand Rapids also failed on five attempts.