Griffins Rally To Even Series At Two|
Three goal second period too much for Texas...
By Jason Kasiorek
May 14th, 2014
Grand Rapids just won't go away quietly as the frustrated Texas Stars are learning. The resilient Griffins rallied back from a one goal deficit to score three unanswered goals and take game four to knot the series at two games apiece. Andrej Nestrasil (4) scored the game winner, while the Griffins also got tallies from Hoggan (4) and McIntyre (1). Petr Mrazek made 33 saves in picking up his 20th career playoff win.
Right out of the gate, Riley Sheahan blistered a shot from the circle that hit Nilstorp in the mask and left him down on the ice. After a few minutes he was able to shake it off and completed the game. The Griffins picked up their game another notch and looked even with Texas after being outplayed badly yesterday. Good pressure and movement on an early GR powerplay that resulted in a few chances in close. Huge save by Mrazek and a quick play right in front. Play is going end to end with both teams generating great chances, very fast paced. Hoggan with a big hit in front of the Texas bench which drew some retaliation but no penalties. Xavier Ouellet fired a big point blast that just missed being redirected by Pulkkinen. Hoggan let a big shot go from the circle that Nilstorp had to look behind him to make sure he stopped. Shots on Goal: GR 8 - Tex 10.
Texas started the period on the powerplay, a carryover from the end of the first. Thirteen seconds into the period, Jeffrey walked around the defense and slid the puck past Mrazek for a 1-0 lead. Mrazek made a series of unbelievable stops while laying in the crease, not giving up on the puck until the whistle went. The Griffin answered back a few minutes later with their own powerplay goal. Hoggan on the doorstep redirected an Emmerton centering pass through Nilstorp to knot the score at one. Tootoo and McKenzie having a conversation, but neither could be baited into dropping the gloves. Great play by Ouellet to break up a dangerous looking 2-on-1. Tootoo centered the puck on the rush and it was batted into the net by McIntyre, but was waived dead because of a high stick. After a few minutes of review, the goal was reinstated and the Griffins had a 2-1 lead. Tootoo centered for McIntyre again but he couldn't get a shot off. Backman sprung Nestrasil into open ice for a big shot on the rush that deflected off the defenseman's skate and up into the netting. Great play by Callahan, getting worked over behind the net, to get the puck to Nestrasil for a pretty goal from the slot. Big shot by Pulkkinen went the opposite way and Nilstorp had to really extend to get a glove on it. late in the period, the Griffins were unable to clear the zone for quite awhile and former Griffin Derek Meech went behind the net for a wraparound, bouncing the puck off a defender in front and past Mrazek to cut the lead to one. Shots on Goal: GR 11 - Tex 15.
An early Griffins penalty put Texas back on the powerplay. Shorthanded 2-on-1, Sheahan to Callahan but Nilstrop just stopped it. The Grand Rapids penalty killers got the job done again, despite several great Texas chances. Delayed penalty to Texas and GR really pressuring the net. Nilstorp caught a break when a puck trickled through him and he turned around and just got a glove on it before it trickled across the goal line. Callahan up the middle got through a couple of guys with the puck and then got knocked down with no call. McIntyre set up Nestrasil in front and he fired it just wide. Tootoo with a big hit at the line, sent Fortunas flying, and took the puck. Frk with a steal made a couple of sick moves and took it deep then tried to center, but no one was there. Campbell in on Nilstorp and taken down, again with no call. Nilstorp to the bench for the extra attacker and Texas really pressuring in the Griffins zone. Big clear by Paetsch to take the pressure off, and then Nestrasil stole the puck and sent it down ice where Callahan chased it down for a chance at the empty net. The buzzer sounded on an emotional 3-2 win to even the series at 2 games apiece. Shots on Goal: GR 6 - Tex 10. For the Game: GR 25 - Tex 35.
Callahan - Sheahan - Jurco/Frk/Nestrasil
Pulkkinen - Emmerton - Nestrasil/Tootoo
Hoggan - Nastasiuk - Frk/Campbell
Tootoo - McIntyre - Campbell/Frk
Backman - Ouellet
Paetsch - Jensen
Evans - Sproul
#3 Marchenko - Ankle Injury - out for season
#5 Almquist - Lower Body Injury - Indefinite
#23 Grant - Veteran
#29 Ferraro - Lower Body injury
Callahan - Sheahan - Jurco
Pulkkinen - Backman
Emmerton - Nestrasil - Frk
Paetsch - Sproul
McIntyre - Emmerton
Evans - Ouellet
Callahan - Sheahan
Paetsch - Jensen
The intensity level for this one was off the charts! The Griffins looked much better early, but still couldn't keep it up for a full 60 minutes. The second half of the game GR was having trouble getting the puck out of the zone and was standing around a bit too much, but looked better than yesterday. Texas has got to be wondering what they have to do.
Mrazek was brilliant again, and really was the difference in this game. He was always in position and looked calm and in control.
A Tough break for GR losing Jurco early in the game, hopefully he does not miss much time.
Xavier Ouellet played an incredible game. He was in a zone and made some stunning defensive plays as well as flexing his offensive muscle by flying around the ice creating chances. He really stood out as a difference maker on the blueline.
To counter that, Jensen had another poor outing. His softness and lack of intensity was on full display and had the crowd cringing every time he made a weak attempt at clearing the zone and had it picked off at the line. Oddly enough, his last couple of shifts he seemed to bear down more and was more effective, but that did not make up for the rest of the game.
David McIntyre stepped up tonight in a big way and really was a thorn in the Stars' side, he was buzzing around the net all night and was abrasive and gritty in his own end. He scored a goal and could have easily had another, and assumed Ferraro's spot on the penalty kill.
Captain Jeff Hoggan gets a shout out for again being the conscience of the this team. He just sets the example through his work ethic and sacrifice. He was leading the forecheck, blocking shots and grinding in the high traffic areas. The rest of team can't help but follow his example.
Nestrasil continues to show he is a player as he stepped up to fill in for Jurco and scored the game winner. He uses his size well and knows how to get into good scoring position where he can use his quick hands. He is not afraid to pay the price to make the play.
Texas has been plying Pulkkinen very close, not allowing him to get a clear lane to fire his laser of shot on net. He had several chances blocked and has to find a way to get loose.
Have to also give mention to Mitch Callahan who goes 100mph every shift, barreling into people and bulling his way to the net despite a broken jaw. His injury has not slowed his gritty style of play at all.
Tootoo did not see much ice in the early going, but played a pretty responsible game, and did a good job of getting the puck to the net. If he can continue to use his speed and smarts in this fashion and stay out of the box he could be an asset in the long run to the Calder Cup.