GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — After being stymied by the Houston defense through the first four games of the series, the Grand Rapids Griffins finally broke through in the decisive Game 5.
The Griffins defeated the Aeros 7-0 at Van Andel Arena to win the best-of-five series three-games-to-two. Grand Rapids will now take on the Toronto Marlies in the Western Conference semifinals starting Friday.
Francis Pare opened the scoring at the 12:03 mark of the first period. He collected a rebound of a Chad Billins shot and slid it past Mike Condon for the only goal of the first period. Tomas Tatar also recorded an assist on the play.
Four more goals during the second period gave the Griffins a commanding 5-0 lead. Tatar rattled a shot off the post and into the net at 4:25, before Riley Sheahan ripped a try from the top of the left circle at 8:56 that deflected off and over Condon and bounced along the goal line before being swept away by a defender. Originally waved off, the goal was confirmed by a video review by referees Trevor Hanson and Jean Hebert. Jan Mursak capped off the scoring at 13:52 for his first career playoff goal in 18 games with the Griffins.
Adam Almquist made it 6-0 with a power play goal 4:06 into the third period. Teemu Pulkkinen capped off the scoring with just 2:35 left in the third period.
Petr Mrazek made 24 saves to become the first rookie in Griffins history to record a shutout in the playoffs. The seven-goal margin matched an AHL playoff record for the largest in a winner-take-all game, tying Quebec’s 8-1 win over Providence in the 1969 semifinals, and set a Griffins record for largest in a postseason shutout.