The Abbotsford Heat went into Grand Rapids on Wednesday night with their playoff lives on the line.
They won 2-1, off a gorgeous Markus Granlund power-play goal late in the third period. And so, now they stay in Grand Rapids, with both (a) their playoff lives on the line again and (b) a chance to even the series up.
Welcome to the magic of a best-of-five series.
Puck-drop is at 5pm MT on TeamRadio.ca and AHL Live.
The recipe for success thus far has been as follows: Joni Ortio has to be good, and the Heat forwards have to be opportunistic. In Game 1, the Heat couldn’t bury their chances against Petr Mrazek. In Game 2, they scored a bit but Ortio was sub-par. In Game 3, everything clicked.
It has to keep clicking.
Don’t expect many, if any, line-up changes from Game 3.
Street – Granlund – Reinhart
Poirier – Locke – Baertschi
Hanowski – Olson – Jones
Gillies – Bancks – Miller
Breen – O’Brien
Kulak – Billins
Arsene – LaFranchise
Ortio’s in net.
Corban Knight and Derek Smith appear to be still out with injuries. (As are Patrick Sieloff and Michael Ferland.)
Granlund and Reinhart have been arguably the team’s most effective forwards through three games. Sven Baertschi was excellent for two periods in Game 1. He’ll need to find his swagger again for the Heat to win. And Poirier will need to continue to be good.
To be honest, the Griffins played their third straight good game on Wednesday, but played just poorly enough to lose. Mrazek was evaded by two shots and the Griffins took a penalty late that cost ’em.
They probably won’t do that twice.
Lines from Game 3, courtesy GriffinsCentral.com:
Callahan – Sheahan – Jurco
Hoggan – Emmerton – Ferraro
Pulkkinen – Nestrasil – Athanasiou
Grant – McIntyre – Janmark
Paetsch – Jensen
Evans – Sproul
Backman – Ouellet
Mrazek’s in net.
As we’ve learned, the Griffins are a pretty strong team, particularly on the top two lines. Their defense is pretty decent. And Mrazek’s good at being a goaltender. Probably not many line-up changes here, either.
Sheahan and Jurco connected on a power-play goal in Game 3 after returning from the NHL. They otherwise weren’t fantastic, but sometimes the different pace of the AHL is an adjustment. They’ll be leaned on tonight.