Jurco's Hat Trick Leads Offensive Surge In 5-2 Win
Griffins offensive explosion takes game three...
By Jason Kasiorek
May 13th, 2014
The Griffins may have been down and bloodied after two thrashings in Texas by the stars, but back in the cozy confines of Van Andel Arena they showed they were far from out. Tomas Jurco highlighted a five goal offensive outburst with three of his own, and the Griffins turned the tables on Texas taking a commanding 5-0 lead before holding off a late rally to finish 5-2 and cut the series lead to one game. Petr Mrazek was sensational, stopping 35 shots including several point blank chances to frustrate the Stars and pick up the win.
The Griffins came out physical with a couple of big hits on the first shift. Texas kept the Griffins hemmed in their own zone for several shifts, running up the shot clock. Callahan on the rush had a big shot on Campbell, and then Emmerton had a good chance close in. Nastasiuk got the puck deep and set up a couple of scoring chances for the 4th line. Jurco scored on a wraparound after winning a battle behind the net, giving the Griffins the lead. Jurco came out of the box, picked the D's pocket at the line and had a break in on Campbell, but the puck rolled wide. The Griffins had good puck movement on their first powerplay, leading to Sheahan hitting Jurco for a backdoor goal to extend the lead to two. Texas rang a shot off the post that stayed out. Nice flurry of chances at the end of the period with Campbell losing his stick. Shots on Goal: GR 11 - Tex 12.
Grand Rapids kept their foot on the gas entering the second period. Just 25 seconds in, Pulkkinen made a beautiful behind the back pass to Nestrasil who came late and he buried it for a 3-0 lead. Hoggan got butt-ended in the face by Henderson, setting up another GR Powerplay. The Griffins had a couple of good chances and some good puck movement with the man advantage. Sproul wiped out Henderson in the corner with a heavy hit. Texas with a great chance, and then Nastasiuk stole the puck and cleared it. Mrazek made two incredible point blank shots to keep the Stars off the board. Pulkkinen wired a rocket from the circle past Campbell, shortside, to extend the lead to four. That was the end for Campbell as he went to the bench for Nilstorp. The Griffins caught another break when a Texas player had a wide open net and just hit the top of Mrazek's pad, popping the puck up, but not into the net. Great shorthanded Rush by Sheahan and Callahan, then Emmerton and Ferraro had a 2-on-1 but Ferraro hit the post. Emmerton had another rush, but lost an edge cutting around the back of the net. Hedden went down on Mrazek negating what looked to be a Stars goal. Great pressure by Callahan, Jurco and Sheahan around the net. Jurco got a Sheahan feed at the side of the net and banked it in off Nilstorp's foot to complete the hat trick. Hoggan doing a great job on the forecheck to frustrate the Stars. Faksa high sticked McIntyre after losing a battle and went off for four minutes. Shots on Goal: GR 13 - Tex 8.
Campbell back in to start the third for Texas. Backman made an errant pass that was picked off as a Stars' player exited the box for a partial break and a goal, high stick-side on Mrazek. Texas crashing the net more as they get frustrated, making contact multiple times with Mrazek. Ranford alone in front got a pass from behind the goal line and cut the lead to three with his 6th of the postseason. Momentum continued to shift away from Grand Rapids when Jensen fired the puck over the glass on a routine clear leaving GR shorthanded. The Griffins penalty killers were up to the task and kept the vaunted Stars powerplay off the board again. McKenzie leveled Jurco with an elbow while the Griffins winger was on his knees. Great defensive play by Ouellet diving and essentially staying with the puck carrier until he ran out of options. Sproul found himself all alone in front with the puck, but couldn't convert. Nastasiuk got behind the defense for a breakaway, but ran out of room to lift the puck over Campbell. Texas pulled their goalie for an extra skater with four and a half minutes left in the game. Callahan with a steal, fed Jurco for a chance at the empty net and then had a chance of his own. Emmerton also fired a long shot that went just wide. With time running out, McKenzie started pushing and shoving with Evans who dropped him with a shot touching off a big scrum. While the officials were busy with Evans, McKenzie went over and engaged Jurco in a bout, and the Griffins winger gave a good accounting of himself. Oleksiak was also trying to goad Callahan into dropping the gloves, pushing and knocking him down. Originally they showed an extra penalty to Grand Rapids, and Ntahan Paetsch was visibly irate, arguing with the officials until another penalty was put up for Dallas. Shots on Goal: GR 3 - Tex 12. For the Game: GR 22 - Tex 37.
Callahan - Sheahan - Jurco
Pulkkinen - Emmerton - Nestrasil
Hoggan - Ferraro - Athanasiou
Grant - McIntyre - Nastasiuk
Backman - Ouellet
Paetsch - Jensen
Evans - Sproul
#3 Marchenko - Ankle Injury - out for season
#5 Almquist - Lower Body Injury - Indefinite
#22 Tootoo - Upper body injury
Callahan - Sheahan - Jurco
Pulkkinen - Backman
Emmerton - Nestrasil - Ferraro
Paetsch - Sproul
Ferraro - Emmerton
Evans - Ouellet
Callahan - Sheahan/McIntyre
Paetsch - Jensen
The Griffins should feel good about walking away with a win, but still did not play their game and except for a stretch midway through the game, were not dominant. As a matter of fact, Texas controlled a lot of the play and just were not able to get the puck past Mrazek. The good news is that means the Griffins can still play better, and they will need to to take this series. GR has to be harder on the puck and do a better job of clearing it, as Texas is deadly around the net, and is relentless in putting shots on goal.
Nastasiuk had a good game and was noticeable for the right reasons. He brought a different dynamic on the 4th line and played with some jump.
Jurco was a force a night, in addition to his scoring, he also played physical, initiating contact and winning the battles. His line accounted for 9 of the teams 22 shots, which is a testament to their game, but also is something that needs to change.
The powerplay looked much better tonight than it has for several weeks, even when they didn't score they moved the puck well and had some good looks.
Mrazek was unbelievable for most of the game, and made some highlight reel saves. He looked very calm and made it seem easy. One of his best post-season games yet.