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Mueller's OT goal downs Griffins

Former Griffins center scored game-winner, lifts Stars to 3-2 series lead

Saturday, 05.17.2014 / 6:57 AM ET / Recap
By Randy Cleves  - Griffins Senior Director of Public Relations
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Mueller\'s OT goal downs Griffins
Andrej Nestrasil looks for passing lane from behind the Stars' net as former Red Wings defenseman Derek Meech defends. (Photo by Mark Newman)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Chris Mueller blew a slap shot past Petr Mrazek’s blocker and inside the far post from the right faceoff dot 3:18 into overtime to give the Texas Stars a 3-2 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday at Van Andel Arena.

As a result, the Griffins are faced with the challenge of winning consecutive games at the Cedar Park Center, where the Stars haven’t lost two straight since Feb. 2-4. While Texas now has a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals, the defending Calder Cup champions have never lost an elimination game under coach Jeff Blashill, going 2-0 when a loss means going home.

Game 6 will face off at 8 p.m. EDT Sunday, while Game 7 would take place Monday at 8:30 p.m., if necessary.

The game perfectly mirrored the series so far, with the Stars going up 2-0, losing their lead then eventually escaping Van Andel Arena with a 3-2 margin.

The Stars built their lead early in the opening period. During a power play, Mike Hedden stood on the doorstep and deflected Jyrki Jokipakka’s shot from the right point past Mrazek at 6:36, before Brendan Ranford slammed home a fat rebound from the slot 59 seconds later for his fifth goal of the series.

Mitch Callahan put Grand Rapids on the board with a power-play goal 11:22 into the second, getting his stick blade on Tomas Jurco’s low shot to redirect the puck over Jack Campbell’s left pad. It marked Jurco’s 21st career playoff point, tying him with Tomas Tatar and Kevin Miller for seventh place on the Griffins’ postseason scoring list.

With 4:44 left before intermission, Xavier Ouellet was awarded a penalty shot after being impeded by Patrik Nemeth during a breakaway, but Campbell got a piece of Ouellet’s wrist shot to keep the Stars ahead by a goal. But not for long.

Teemu Pulkkinen blasted the equalizer past Campbell from the top of the right circle at the 17:57 mark, one-timing Cory Emmerton’s feed for his team-leading 10th point of the playoffs.

The teams combined for 27 shots in the third period, with Grand Rapids holding a 16-11 advantage, but strong goaltending on both sides sent the game to overtime. The Stars, however, were forced to put Cristopher Nilstorp into the game with 1:59 remaining in regulation due to an injury sustained by Campbell.

Mrazek, who surrendered the Stars’ first two goals on the fourth and fifth shots he faced, made 20 consecutive saves before ceding the game-winner to Mueller, the former Griffin. Nilstorp logged just 5:17 between the Stars’ pipes but earned the win by stopping the four shots he faced, including three during overtime.

GAME NOTES: The crowd of 8,057 was the ninth-largest in Griffins playoff history and the fourth-largest for a non-finals game (AHL or IHL). … The winner of this series will face third-seeded Toronto in the Western Conference finals. The Marlies finished off a sweep of the second-seeded Chicago Wolves with a 4-0 victory Friday in Toronto. … In AHL history, 80.8 percent of teams that won Game 5 of a 2-2 best-of-seven series went on to advance. The last team to lose Game 5 and then win Games 6 and 7 was Texas (2010 vs. Hamilton).

THREE STARS: 1. TEX Chris Mueller (game-winning goal); 2. GR Tomas Jurco (assist); 3. GR Teemu Pulkkinen (goal).

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
T. Tatar 5 0 3 1 3
M. Green 5 1 1 -1 2
A. Athanasiou 5 1 0 1 1
G. Nyquist 5 1 0 2 1
H. Zetterberg 5 1 0 3 1
J. Abdelkader 5 1 0 -3 1
B. Richards 5 1 0 -4 1
D. Helm 5 1 0 -1 1
D. Larkin 5 1 0 -2 1
N. Kronwall 5 0 1 3 1
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 1 2 0 .945 1.36
J. Howard 0 2 0 .891 3.59