GRAND RAPIDS DOWNS OKLAHOMA CITY, 4-0
By Cassie Gage,
The Oklahoma City Barons dropped a 4-0 decision to the Grand Rapids Griffins Saturday evening at the Cox Convention Center. Griffins goaltender Petr Mrazek shut out the Barons, turning away all 40 shots he faced as Grand Rapids evened the AHL Western Conference Final series at 2-2.
The Barons got scoring chances early in the first period as Josh Green just missed high on Mrazek’s glove side. Teemu Hartikainen fed Martin Marincin a pass, but Mrazek kept Oklahoma City off the board. Chris VandeVelde got a partial breakaway, and Toni Rajala caught Mrazek out of position but neither found the back of the net.
Grand Rapids broke through at 12:08 into the period as recent playoff addition Joakim Andersson put the puck in from the goal line to give the Griffins a 1-0 lead. The power play goal came after the Griffins controlled the puck in their offensive zone, and it was the first power play goal of the series for Grand Rapids.
Oklahoma City continued to get chances as Taylor Fedun was stopped by Mrazek and Marincin put a rebound over the net. Jonathan Cheechoo also got an opportunity but Mrazek stood tall. The Barons had a prime chance with seconds remaining in the period as Mark Arcobello centered a pass for Andrew Hotham.
The Griffins took the 1-0 lead into the locker room at the intermission as the Barons held a slim 14-13 lead in shots on goal.
Grand Rapids extended the lead to 2-0 just 1:57 into the second period. A flurry of action in front of Barons goaltender Yann Danis resulted in Riley Sheahan scoring his second goal of the playoffs.
Antti Tyrvainen tried to find Ben Eager streaking up ice but his pass just missed him. After off-setting penalties resulted in four-on-four play, VandeVelde had a backhanded chance stopped by Mrazek. Grand Rapids pushed the lead to 3-0 at 8:25 as Landon Ferraro redirected a Chad Billins pass past Danis.
Oklahoma City had a goal waived off late in the period as the Griffins led 3-0 at the second intermission and gained a 27-25 advantage in shots on goal.
The Barons brought the pressure in the third period, peppering Mzarek with 15 shots on goal. Oklahoma City had one of its best chances late in the period after a Tyler Pitlick shot resulted in action in front of Mzarek. The Barons pulled Danis in favor of the extra attacker with less than three minutes remaining in the game.
Jan Mursak added an empty-net power play goal at 18:11 to secure the 4-0 win for the Griffins. Oklahoma City out-shot the Griffins 15-5 in the third period to hold a 40-32 lead in shots on goal for the game.
Game five of the series is Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. CT at the Cox Convention Center. Both teams return to Grand Rapids for game six on Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. CT at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. If game seven is necessary, it is scheduled for Wednesday at 6 p.m. CT in Grand Rapids.
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