The Malik Report
Red Wings scoreboard-watching news: Mantha, Val-d’Or force Game 7; Griffins down 2-0; Worlds updates
by George Malik on 05/12/14 at 06:20 AM ET
I've been battling a bug of late, and this past weekend involved a significant amount of scoreboard-related Red Wings news, so let's catch up:
In the QMJHL, Anthony Mantha had an assist as his Val-d'Or Foreurs defeated Baie-Comeau 6-3 on Sunday, forcing a 7th and deciding agme in the QMJHL's championship series.
Mantha now has 23 goals, 12 assists and 35 points registered over the course of 35 games played. RDS posted a pair of highlight clips from the game, the Canadian Press posted an English-language recap and L'Echo Abitibien and the Abitibi Express posted French-language recaps.
Game 7 takes place on Tuesday in Baie-Comeau.
In the AHL, as Paul noted, the Grand Rapids Griffins are in trouble.
The Griffins dropped a 4-0 decision to the Texas Stars on Saturday night, and as such, the Griffins are heading home for Games 3, 4 and 5 (on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday) down 2 games to zip. The Griffins' website posted a recap...
CEDAR PARK, Texas – Two-goal nights from Brendan Ranford and Justin Dowling and 30 saves by Cristopher Nilstorp propelled Texas to a 4-0 win over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday at the Cedar Park Center, giving the Stars a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference Semifinals.
The shutout was the first suffered by the Griffins in the postseason since the first game of their 2013 run to the Calder Cup, when Houston’s Darcy Kuemper made 36 saves in a 3-0 decision on April 26 before Grand Rapids took the best-of-five series by winning three of the next four contests.
After the AHL’s regular season champions held serve with a pair of home wins, the defending champs will now have as many as three straight chances to do the same. The Griffins will host Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday at Van Andel Arena, along with a potential Game 5 on Friday. All contests will start at 7 p.m.
Carrying over their offensive assault from Game 1, when Texas outshot Grand Rapids 15-7 during each of the first two periods, the Stars enjoyed an 18-8 advantage during the opening 20 minutes. Petr Mrazek was up to the task, making 17 saves – including several in spectacular fashion – before the home team finally struck with just 45 seasons left before intermission. After digging the puck free from beneath a prone Nathan Paetsch during a goal-mouth scramble, Curtis McKenzie fired a point-blank try that Mrazek turned aside, but Ranford crashed the crease to pot the first goal for the second time in as many games.
In the second period, Dowling scored twice in less than three minutes to open a commanding 3-0 lead for the home team. After his slick feed to Kevin Henderson on the doorstep resulted in a tricky redirection that Mrazek blocked, Dowling quickly chased down the rebound in the right circle and scooped a backhand over Mrazek at the 7:36 mark. Then, during a power play, Dowling took a pass from former Griffin Derek Meech and connected on a wrist shot from the top of the right circle to give the Stars the three-goal cushion.
Ranford notched his second goal of the night 9:20 into the third, getting behind the Griffins’ defense and stuffing a shot just inside the left post. Texas eventually fired 37 shots on Mrazek, who finished with 33 saves.
Each team had four power play chances, with Texas converting one of its attempts.
Notes: The Griffins are 0-4 all time in best-of-seven series when trailing two games to none, including 0-3 as AHL members…This marks just the third time in 30 playoff contests under Jeff Blashill that Grand Rapids has lost consecutive games. After the previous occasions, the Griffins responded by winning two straight in Oklahoma City during the 2013 Western Conference Finals and by claiming the Calder Cup at Syracuse last June 18…Two of Grand Rapids’ four series wins during its run to the 2013 championship came as the underdog, as the Griffins upset Toronto in the conference semis and Syracuse in the finals.
Three Stars: 1. TEX Ranford (two goals); 2. TEX Dowling (two goals); 3. TEX Nilstorp (W, 30 saves, SO)
The Texas Stars' website posted a recap and a split set of first period, second period and third period highlights; the AHL's website posted a recap; the Austin American-Statesman's Sean Shapiro posted a subscriber-only recap with quotes...
Texas now heads to Grand Rapids, Mich., for Games 3 through 5 with Ranford solidly entrenched on the top line with AHL Rookie of the Year Curtis McKenzie and AHL Most Valuable Player Travis Morin.
“It feels pretty nice,” Ranford said. “Just getting the opportunities with (Morin) and McKenzie. They’re just finding me and getting the puck on net, and it’s going in.”
On Saturday, Ranford gave Texas a 1-0 lead with 44.6 seconds remaining the first period when he tapped in a rebound. The goal salvaged a first period in which Texas outshot Grand Rapids 18-8, and Ranford set up the score with hard work along the boards. Two periods later, Ranford added his second goal on a finesse move, pushing Texas’ lead to 4-0 with 9:20 remaining. Ranford beat his defender one-on-one, faked a backhand shot and then patiently slid the puck past Petr Mrazek’s right pad.
It was a similar move to his breakaway goal in Game 1, but he switched up his approach to fool the Griffins goalie.
“Coming down the right side, I was just trying to beat him to the far post — that was my main thing,” Ranford said. “He’s a good goalie and he plays hard … but I just got around him.”
The goals were more than enough for Cristopher Nilstorp, who made 30 saves for the second AHL playoff shutout of his career.
“He was real good,” Stars coach Willie Desjardins said. “He was real solid, and he made a couple big saves on the power play and battled through.”
Mrazek stopped 33 of 37 shots for Grand Rapids, which went with a more physical lineup than in Game 1 but couldn’t capitalize on the aggressiveness. Desjardins said he expects that to continue in Game 3 on Tuesday in Grand Rapids.
“It will be a more physical game,” he said. “They’ll come real hard at us, and that’s a tough rink to play at. We haven’t had great success in that rink, so it will be real tough to play there.”
And the Griffins posted a Flickr Photo gallery and a set of highlight clips and post-game comments:
In terms of the Red Wings' NHL players taking part in the World Championships:
On Sunday, Nyquist didn't register a point but played 16:47 as his Swedes defeated Jakub Kindl's Czechs 4-3 in a shootout (Nyquist didn't take part in the shootout; Kindl finished at +1 and played 20:06).
Today, Slovakia will play France at 9:45 AM EDT;
The Czechs will play Canada at 1:45 PM, and Team USA will battle Russia at 1:45 PM on NBCSN.
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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.