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Red Wings Prospects Help Griffins Force Game 5 vs. Milwaukee

Edvinsson Leaves Late in Game With Injury



Carter Mazur, Griffins, red wings, marco Kasper
(Photo By GriffinsPhoto)

GRAND RAPIDS — When Grand Rapids Griffins coach Dan Watson was pondering his lineup for a must-win Game 4, he settled on a sports strategy that has been around since time immemorial.

“We went with the lineup that got us here,” Watson said.

Watson wanted the players who had turned their season around after Christmas with relentless play and a penchant for pulling out games when they looked to be a lost cause. He wanted the group that created a 19-game points streak at Van Andel Arena. He wanted as many players as possible who have proven they don’t know when to quit.

“That’s why (Amadeus) Lombardi was back here and (Taro) Hirose was back in,” Watson said. “We decided to put the lineup with the guys who got us right, where we are, where we are standing right now. That was a message to them: Go do this. Don’t end it right now. Let’s live to see another day.”

That strategy paid off as the Griffins mounted a furious third period comeback, erasing a 2-0 deficit, by scoring four rapid-fire goals, three by Jonatan Berggren, to down the Milwaukee Admirals 4-2 to force a Game 5 Sunday in Milwaukee to decide the Central Division Final.

Detroit defenseman Simon Edvinsson also returned to the lineup after missing two games because of an undisclosed injury. However, he left the game late in the third period because of an injury. It’s not known whether it is the same injury or a different injury. His status for Game 5 is unclear.

The Griffins scored their four goals, two coming on the power play, in a span of three minutes and 30 seconds. Berggren, projected to be in Detroit’s lineup next season, now has six goals and 10 points in eight playoff games. Carter Mazur set up Berggren’s first two goals with slick, pinpoint passes.

“You can get a lot of momentum (from this game), especially with that crowd,” Mazur said. “We have the best fans in the league,  to see them throw an octopus on the ice, waving it around, and all that, especially growing up in Detroit…Seeing that — it is pretty awesome and it’s going to bring us a lot of momentum for sure.”

Marco Kasper set up the third Berggren tally. Kasper centered Mazur and Berggren in this game.

PK Saves Griffins

As Watson knew they would, the Griffins didn’t lose sight of the objective, even when trailing.

“We’ve been in that situation a lot of time this season,” Mazur said. “So we are pretty comfortable in those situations. We know we have the team in that room to win. And when Bergie scores three goals it’s pretty simple.”

To be in position to win the game, the Griffins needed to kill off two five-on-three power plays, one for 1:11 and the other for a full two minutes.

“That’s the game right there,” Watson said. “If they score on those two five-on-threes, it’s a different story, we would be talking about something different.”

Six-foot-six goalie Sebastian Cossa stood tall on those kills. “Give a ton of credit to the killers and a ton of credit to Cossa,” Watson said. “And everyone has been talking about our power play, and it came through huge in the third period with two goals.”

Cossa stopped 31 of 33 shots in the game. That’s a .939 save percentage. Cossa has been at .900 or better for five of his last six playoff starts. He has a 2.80 GAA in this postseason.

The Griffins scored all of their goals against Nashville Predators prize goalie prospect Yaroslav Askarov. He seemed to injure himself on the last goal. He left the game late in the third and was replaced by veteran Troy Grosenick.