Thankfully, the post-Red Wings elimination fall out wasn’t as bad as it could have theoretically been. Landon Ferraro would have had to clear waivers. Tomas Jurco has an international stage to hang out on. Petr Mrazek is too good to set foot in another league at this point. The only player to find his way to the Grand Rapids Griffins was Alexey Marchenko. So, it could have been worse.
But this Griffins team is still good. Very good, even, as they proved tonight by tying the series by outscoring the Toronto Marlies 5-4.
This game started off so well for Toronto. In fact, it took them less than a minute to take the lead; TJ Brennan set up Matt Frattin for his third goal of the series just forty six seconds into the opening frame. It didn’t last very long, though. I warned in my article a few days ago that Tomas Nosek was one of many on the Griffins that were due to contribute, and sure enough, he beat Christopher Gibson not once, but twice by the eleven minute mark to give his team the lead. Interestingly, he scored the goals in contrasting special teams situations, picking up the first while shorthanded and adding the second one on the powerplay.
Matt Rupert put his team back in the game early in the second, scoring the only goal of the period just two minutes in. For a little bit, it seemed like the Marlies were poised to turn this one around, as they heavily outshot the Griffins throughout the course of the period, but couldn’t beat Tom McCollum again before the buzzer sounded. This set up a third period that would ultimately decide the game.
The Griffins took early advantage of the opportunity. Andreas Athanasiou gave his team in the lead early in the period, and drew a penalty shortly thereafter that almost instantaneously turned into a goal by Teemu Pulkkinen. Tyler Bertuzzi soon added insurance, which appeared to knock the Marlies entirely out of the game. However, Toronto wasn’t quite done. With a minute and change to go, Brendan Mikkelson cut the lead to two, and twenty five seconds later, Brennan picked up his third of the playoffs to put the Marlies back in the game. Unfortunately for the blue and white, they didn’t have enough time to add an equalizer, dropping the game and setting up tomrorow’s winner-take-all matchup.
Another three points for TJ Brennan, who now has seven in the series. He’s heated up at just the right time, but tomorrow will decide how much longer he’ll be able to carry that momentum.
Summing it Up
Well, I guess this is why they call it home ice advantage? This series would be over if it wasn’t for the hot start that the Marlies had, but they’re a tough position now. How do you react tomorrow? Do you switch up the lines? Do you switch up the goaltenders?
It’s a big mess. But fear not; the only one team has picked up three consecutive regulation wins against the Marlies at any point this season. Unfortunately, that team is the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Puck drop is at 5PM tomorrow.