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Grand Rapids Griffins lose 2-1 to the Lake Erie Monsters in Game 3

Updated 3x at 10:51 PM: I haven't seen a game like the Grand Rapids Griffins' 2-1 loss to the Lake Erie Monsters before, not at the AHL level, and maybe in terms of the series, not at the NHL level, either.

Grand Rapids is down 3-0 in the series almost entirely because Joonas Korpisalo has been nothing short of sensational.

On Sunday, he stopped 42 of 42 shots--9 from Eric Tangradi alone, and that's an honest total, not a padded one--and the Finnish goalie with the squid legs who took out the Wings in that crucial early March tilt is at it again down here in the AHL.

The fact that Josh Anderson walked down the wing on the first shift and blasted a puck past Tom McCollum didn't aid things, but the Griffins were able to fire 22 shots on Korpisalo in the 1st, they beat him in the 2nd, on a Ryan Sproul slap shot from the point, and by the time Grand Rapids had pulled its goalie and was playing six against the Monsters in the game's final minute-and-a-half...

You just knew it was over, at least if you weren't on the benches or between the ice.

It's not that Tom McCollum has been anything less than solid, and while there have been some difficult moments for the Griffins against a Monsters team boasting Zach Werenski, Kerby Rychel, Sonny Milano, Steve Emenger, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Justin Falk among their post-Blue Jackets elimination additions, Tangradi has been good, Sproul, Jensen, Ouellet, Lashoff, Paetsch and Russo have gotten the job done on defense, and from Mantha to Miele and Athanasiou to Zengerle, there isn't much to give that the Griffins haven't.

The Griffins have to beat the Monsters in Game 4 on Tuesday at Van Andel Arena to begin to salvage this series, and given the players and coach's comments after the game, it appears that the Griffins are going to be sticking to their plan of shooting, shooting and also shooting, though it could be argued that they've been a little too fine in trying to find the perfect opportunity from time to time--it's not nearly as bad as anything the Wings displayed.

The AHL's website has already posted a recap...

The Lake Erie Monsters are still unbeaten, and now they are one win away from a trip to the conference finals.

Joonas Korpisalo made 41 saves as the Monsters held on for a 2-1 win over Grand Rapids in Game 3 of the Central Division Finals at Van Andel Arena on Sunday afternoon.

With a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, Lake Erie can close out the Griffins with another win in Game 4 on Tuesday.

Korpisalo is now 6-0 during the playoffs and has won eight consecutive starts going back to the regular season.

Josh Anderson took advantage of a Griffins giveaway on the game’s opening shift, skated in alone and beat Tom McCollum 17 seconds into the contest to give Lake Erie a 1-0 lead.

Grand Rapids went on to control play the rest of the stanza, outshooting the Monsters, 22-8. But Lake Erie held the lead heading into intermission.

Zach Werenski made it 2-0 with 11:53 to go in the second period, converting a cross-ice pass from Oliver Bjorkstrand for his third goal of the playoffs.

The Griffins finally broke through late in the second period, as Ryan Sproul stepped into a one-timer and beat Korpisalo with 2:12 remaining in the frame.

Grand Rapids pressed for the equalizer in the third period putting 13 more shots on goal, but Korpisalo was up to the task.

McCollum (3-3), making his 20th consecutive postseason start in net for the Griffins, made 21 saves in Game 3.

The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner posted an initial recap, with more to come...

The Grand Rapids Griffins stayed out of the penalty box but didn't have much luck finding the back of the net against Lake Erie's Joonas Korpisalo on Sunday.

Korpisalo turned aside 40 of 41 shots , including all 22 in the first period – to lead the Monsters to a 2-1 win and a dominating 3-0 lead in the Central Division finals.

The Griffins a tied a franchise playoff record with the opening-period shots, and Korpisalo, in kind, had the most saves in a period against a Griffins team.

The Griffins' lone goal came from Ryan Sproul with just over three minutes left in the second to cut it to 2-1.

The loss puts the Griffins with the daunting task of overcoming a 3-0 series deficit – and they have never won when trailing 2-0.

Here's a .gif of Sproul's goal: the Griffins and Monsters will post highlight clips sometime while I'm driving home...

And here are post-game comments from Mitch Callahan...

Eric Tangradi...

Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan...

Ryan Sproul...

And coach Todd Nelson:

More to come as I'm able to update this during and after the drive home.

Update: Here are game highlights and post-game interviews from the Griffins:

The Monsters' website has also posted a recap.

Update #2: Here's the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner's main recap:

"You got to get traffic, you got to knock the goalie around a little – find something," Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan said. "We're going to take a day tomorrow and address some things, watch some video. There's no quit in this room."

Korpisalo, who had a .920 save percentage in 31 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets this season, turned in a number of impressive save, none more acrobatic than a diving stop as he came around the back of the net on an errant puck to stop a clear shot by Eric Tangradi.

"We're running into a hot goalie," Tangradi said. "He's leaving some rebounds. It's just a matter of getting hungry, get into the blue paint and having some will and determination. And that could turn this series around."

The Griffins only goal came from Ryan Sproul with just over two minutes left in the second. The defenseman got a quick feed at the point from Andy Miele during a pile up around the front of the net and snapped a clear shot over his glove to cut into a 2-0 deficit.

"It's hard to beat him straight up," Sproul said. "But we've scored some goals on him this series and keep putting pucks on the net and getting greasy ones."

Wallner continues...

 

Update #3: Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples posted a superb photo gallery from the game;

The Griffins posted a recap...

BY THE SLIMMEST OF MARGINS

Calder Cup Playoffs – Central Division Finals – Game 3 – Lake Erie Leads Series, 3-0

Lake Erie Monsters 2 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 1

May 8, 2016

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Despite firing 42 shots at Lake Erie’s Joonas Korpisalo on Sunday, the Grand Rapids Griffins suffered their third straight one-goal loss of the Central Division Finals, falling 2-1 to the Monsters at Van Andel Arena.

The Griffins, who are now tasked with trying to become the fourth team in AHL history to win a best-of-seven series after trailing 0-3, will host Game 4 on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

The Monsters needed only 17 seconds to jump on top off a giveaway at the Griffins’ blueline, as Josh Anderson sped in with the gifted puck and beat Tom McCollum with a wrister from the right circle.

Grand Rapids nearly answered four minutes in when Anthony Mantha won a race for the puck along the end boards and put a feed out front to Andreas Athanasiou, who managed an off-balance shot that Korpisalo stopped and covered. Korpisalo was called on for a tougher save midway through the frame, when he denied a Ryan Sproul chance from the right circle then immediately slid to his right to deny Louis-Marc Aubry’s one-timer of the juicy rebound.

The Griffins would eventually out-shoot Lake Erie 22-8 during the opening 20 minutes – helped in part by a four-minute power play awarded when Tyler Bertuzzi was high-sticked by Michael Chaput with 4:58 remaining – to tie a franchise playoff record for shots in one period, set on May 28, 2015 during the third period against Utica. For his part, Korpisalo’s 22 saves established a record for the most by a Griffins opponent in a playoff period, breaking the mark of 21 set by Utica’s Jacob Markstrom in that same period.

Lake Erie made good on its 12th shot of the contest at 8:07 of the second to push its lead to 2-0. From the left boards, Oliver Bjorkstrand sent a cross-ice pass to former Michigan Wolverine Zach Werenski, who slammed a shot past McCollum from the right side.

Korpisalo stood tall again less than two minutes later, windmilling to rob Eric Tangradi after Dean Kukan had handed over the puck to him in the right circle. But the Griffins finally solved the Monsters’ netminder on their 29th shot of the night with 2:12 left in the period, as Sproul blasted Andy Miele’s pass high into the net from the top of the right circle.

McCollum kept the Griffins alive deep into the third period by making a pair of stops on breakaways with less than four minutes left before being pulled for an extra attacker with two minutes on the clock, but the Monsters survived the Griffins’ final flurry. Korpisalo logged 41 saves to improve to 6-0 in the postseason while McCollum finished with 21 stops.

Notes: The Griffins have suffered three straight one-goal playoff losses for the first time since the 2006 Western Conference Finals versus Milwaukee…The three AHL teams to win a series after trailing 0-3 were Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2013, Adirondack in 1989 and Rochester in 1960.

Three Stars: 1. LE Korpisalo (W, 41 saves); 2. LE Werenski (goal); 3. GR Sproul (goal)

The Griffins posted a photo gallery, too, as did the Grand Rapids Press.

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Comments

Avatar

That blows….my main concern going into this match-up was
that Korpisalo, in spite of his young age, is not really an AHL goalie anymore.

When Bobrovsky kept hurting his groin, they tried McElhenny (sp?
- journeyman battler who is really just an occasional fill-in) and he was OK, but couldnt
really steal many games.

Korpisalo wasn’t so hot at first; they tried Anton Forsberg, too.

But Torts ended up trusting Korpisalo and giving him lots of rope and I would
assume he is now the Jackets #2, unless Bob is on a roll and they want him to play a lot in the A.

The impression I get with McCollum is he’s been good, overall, has made a few huge saves,
but has also let in a couple of weaker ones that turn into trouble against a hot goalie.

Here’s hoping the Griffs make it long series at least

Posted by Lefty30 on 05/08/16 at 09:52 PM ET

Avatar

There were 3 rushes one on one heading on McCollum. He made saves on 2 of them, one was goal. Not bad. But where was our defense!!!

Posted by tutoka on 05/09/16 at 01:24 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Tom was pretty damn good, but Korpisalo has been otherworldly. It’s been a series of weird breaks and an incredible amount of earned “luck” for the Monsters’ goalie.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/09/16 at 01:31 AM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.