Western Conference Final: Griffins lead best-of-seven series 3-2.
Playoff Record: Barons: 9-6-0; Griffins: 10-6-0.
Setting the Stage: Late second-period goals by Tomas Jurco, Mitch Callahan and Tomas Tatar lifted the Griffins to a 3-0 victory in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final. Rookie netminder Petr Mrazek made 37 saves for his second straight shutout and fourth of the post-season.
In the heart of the series, the Barons won only one of three games on home ice at the Cox Convention Center and will now need back-to-back wins to stay alive and move on to the Calder Cup Final.
Griffins: Stopping all 77 shots he faced in Games 4 and 5 combined, rookie goaltender Petr Mrazek has been a rock between the pipes. The 21-year-old has not allowed a goal in over 163 minutes and is now in possession of a miniscule 1.40 goals-against average and .960 save percentage in the series.
Since being assigned to the Griffins after the Detroit Red Wings were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson have certainly made an impact. The newcomers have combined to record a goal and three assists in the past two games.
According to Head Coach Todd Nelson, however, their contributions aren't surprising and he's been pleased with how his top pairing of Brandon Davidson and Garrett Stafford have matched up against them.
"They're doing well," he said. "They're going to get opportunities because they're that good and that dynamic, but they're containing them and that has to continue."
"We don't have the last change in Grand Rapids, but we'll do what we can to get them out against those guys."
Barons: Coming into the series as the American Hockey League's top scoring team in the post-season (42 goals in 10 games), OKC's offence has dried up completely.
Philippe Cornet was the last to beat Mrazek with a goal at 16:35 in Game 3.
A lot of it has to do with special teams. The Barons failed to convert on six separate power-play chances in Game 5, giving up a shorthanded goal in the process. The club is now 1-for-21 with the man-advantage in the series.
What the Barons are doing well is getting shots to the net (40 in Game 4 and 37 in Game 5), but it hasn't been enough.
"(Mrazek) has played extremely well, but I don't think we're making it as tough on him as we should," said Nelson. "We've had plenty of opportunities to score, but we have to bury the chances that we do get. It's a lack of execution right now. We're fanning on pucks and missing open nets."
"You've got to give him credit because he's been outstanding," added defenceman Taylor Fedun, "but a lot of the shots we got off (in Game 5), it seemed like we were hitting him in the chest a lot. His positioning is good, but we need to shoot for the corners and make him work a little harder."
Lander made the trip to Grand Rapids and could be available to play in Game 6, Nelson revealed Sunday.
The 22-year-old last played on May 13 in Game 3 against the Texas Stars.
Puck Drop: The Barons have been in this situation before. Facing elimination against the Charlotte Checkers earlier on this post-season, OKC rattled off consecutive victories, throttling the Checkers 8-2 and 6-1 to take the opening-round series three games to two.
-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick
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