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Jurco's hat trick paces Game 3 victory

Griffins trail Texas, 2-1, in their best-of-seven AHL playoff series

Wednesday, 05.14.2014 / 2:16 AM ET / Recap
By Randy Cleves  - Griffins Senior Director of Public Relations
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Jurco\'s hat trick paces Game 3 victory
Teemu Pulkkinen had a goal and two assists in the Griffins' 5-2 victory Tuesday at Van Andel Arena. (Photo by Mark Newman)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.Tomas Jurco registered the sixth playoff hat trick in franchise history while Cory Emmerton and Teemu Pulkkinen also enjoyed three-point nights, leading the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 5-2 victory over the Texas Stars on Tuesday at Van Andel Arena.

Now trailing 1-2 in the best-of-seven series, the Griffins will try to maintain the home teams’ perfect series record when they host Game 4 on Wednesday and Game 5 on Friday. Faceoff each night is at 7 p.m. EDT.

Jurco snapped the Griffins’ scoreless streak at 102:46 early in the opening period, notching Grand Rapids’ first goal since his own lamp-lighter during the second period of Game 1. Jurco dug the puck out from behind the net and quickly jammed a wraparound inside the right post at the 7:06 mark.

About four minutes later, Jurco sprang out of the penalty box, won a fight for the puck and skated in alone on Jack Campbell, but he lost control in close before he could get a shot off. He eventually tallied that second goal less than seven minutes after his first, taking a backdoor pass from Riley Sheahan and beating Campbell from below the right circle at 13:44.

Following intermission, Andrej Nestrasil needed just 25 seconds to push the Griffins’ lead to 3-0, as he took a slick backward centering pass from Pulkkinen and solved Campbell from the slot.

Deft puck-handling by Emmerton led to a signature Pulkkinen rocket, the Griffins’ fourth goal and a bit of rest for Campbell 8:23 into the frame, as Emmerton skated around a defender before dropping a pass to Pulkkinen for a blistering slap shot from the top of the right circle.

Christopher Nilstorp, who blanked Grand Rapids on 30 saves in Game 2, entered the contest and nearly witnessed his squad get on the board, but an apparent Stars goal at the 11:06 mark was quickly waved off by the referee due to incidental contact with goaltender Petr Mrazek.

Jurco finished off the Griffins’ first playoff hat trick in more than seven years with 3:53 remaining in the period. Following hard work by Mitch Callahan and Sheahan to keep control of the puck deep in the Texas zone, Sheahan found Jurco all alone to the right of the net for Grand Rapids’ first three-goal playoff performance since Matt Ellis did the deed on April 21, 2007 at Manitoba.

Jurco’s three goals and Sheahan’s two assists gave each of them 20 career playoff points, tying them with Jan Mursak for ninth place on the franchise’s all-time playoff scoring list.

With Campbell back between the Stars’ pipes to start the third, the visitors quickly made things interesting. Former Griffin Mike Hedden ruined Mrazek’s shutout bid on a partial breakaway 2:24 into the period, lifting the puck over the netminder’s blocker, before Brendan Ranford tallied his fourth goal of the series by whipping a shot home from the slot at 5:47.

The Griffins denied the Stars’ mighty power-play unit after Nick Jensen was whistled off for delay of game at 6:08 then held firm the rest of the way, despite Texas’ 12-3 shot advantage over the final 20 minutes.

Mrazek, who passed Jimmy Howard into sole possession of first place among Griffins goalies with his 31st career playoff game, finished with 35 saves. Campbell stopped 15 of 19 shots in the loss, while Nilstorp turned aside two of three in relief.

GAME NOTES: Thanks to the win, the Griffins still have not lost three consecutive games in regulation all season, through 83 regular season and playoff contests. … In two seasons under coach Jeff Blashill, the Griffins are now 10-2 when they’re within two losses of playoff elimination. … Of the 285 teams in AHL history that trailed 1-2 in a best-of-seven, 75 (26.3 percent) went on to win the series. The last team to accomplish the feat was the 2013 Griffins against Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals. … The attendance of 4,293 represented an increase of 57 percent over the Griffins’ crowd for Game 3 of the 2013 Western Conference semifinals against Toronto (2,738).

THREE STARS: 1. GR Tomas Jurco (hat trick); 2. GR Teemu Pulkkinen (goal, two assists); 3. GR Petr Mrazek (W, 35 saves).

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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