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Abbotford's late goal forces Game 4

Despite loss, Griffins still lead best-of-five playoff series, 2-1

Thursday, 05.1.2014 / 6:52 AM ET / Recap
By Randy Cleves  - Griffins Senior Director of Public Relations
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Abbotford\'s late goal forces Game 4

Heat defenseman Shane O'Brien throws an elbow at Mitch Callahan during the Griffins' 2-1 loss in Game 3 Wednesday night. (Photo by Mark Newman)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The largest crowd for a Grand Rapids playoff opener since 1998 was forced to contain its enthusiasm for at least another two nights, as the Abbotsford Heat climbed off the mat with a 2-1 win over the Griffins on Wednesday before 7,193 fans.

Markus Granlund scored a power-play goal with only 1:02 remaining to give the visitors their first win of this Western Conference quarterfinal series and force a Game 4 that will be played at 7 p.m. EDT Friday at Van Andel Arena.

The Griffins’ offense welcomed back an entirely new and potent line in left wing Mitch Callahan, center Riley Sheahan and right wing Tomas Jurco. Callahan made his first appearance in the lineup since sustaining his infamous broken jaw exactly four weeks ago, while Jurco and Sheahan had not played for Grand Rapids since Jan. 11 and Feb. 21, respectively, due to long tours of duty with the Detroit Red Wings.

The trio paid immediate dividends, teaming up for a power-play goal with 2:33 left in the opening period. After Mattias Backman’s long shot hit Callahan out front, Sheahan found the puck in the slot and smartly slid it to a wide-open Jurco, whose shot found the seam between Joni Ortio and the right post.

Grand Rapids finished the first with a 14-7 advantage in shots, carrying over the dominance of Game 2 in which the Griffins out-shot the Heat 46-17. Abbotsford turned the tables slightly by a 10-6 count in the second, although the best scoring chances belonged to the home team. Andrej Nestrasil rang a blast off the left pipe from the half-wall, and both Teemu Pulkkinen and Andreas Athanasiou were unable to get their sticks on a centering feed that passed through the crease behind Ortio.

The Heat forged a deadlock early in the third period when defenseman Chris Breen fired a shot that Corey Locke tipped past Petr Mrazek at the 5:52 mark, before a high-sticking call on Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan with 1:20 remaining gave the Heat the opportunity they needed.

Chad Billins, a member of the Griffins’ 2013 Calder Cup championship team who signed with the Calgary Flames organization in the off-season, hit Granlund with a pass at the Griffins’ blue line. Granlund split a pair of defenders and swooped in on Mrazek before roofing a backhand for the winning tally.

Ortio bounced back with a 34-save effort after being pulled in Saturday’s 7-2 loss to Grand Rapids, while Mrazek made 23 saves but sustained his first postseason loss since Game 5 of last year’s finals.

GAME NOTES: The attendance of 7,193 marked the Griffins’ fourth-largest playoff crowd since 2001 and the 10th-largest in franchise history. During last season’s 13 home games en route to the Calder Cup, only Games 3 through 5 of the Calder Cup finals drew larger audiences. … The Griffins dropped to 4-12 all time at home when faced with the opportunity to eliminate their playoff opponent.

THREE STARS: 1. ABB Markus Granlund (game-winning goal); 2. ABB Joni Ortio (W, 34 saves); 3. GR Tomas Jurco (power-play goal).

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
7 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
8 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
9 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 51 18 19 25 37
H. Zetterberg 52 9 25 2 34
T. Tatar 51 15 17 -2 32
G. Nyquist 52 14 15 -2 29
J. Abdelkader 52 14 12 -4 26
P. Datsyuk 37 6 20 11 26
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 38 5 10 6 15
D. DeKeyser 48 6 8 12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 19 10 4 .932 2.03
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89