The Syracuse Crunch won't give up the Calder Cup without a fight.
For the second straight night, the Crunch prevented the Grand Rapids Griffins from capturing the American Hockey League championship on their home ice. Richard Panik's power-play goal midway through the second period broke a tie as the Crunch beat the Griffins 4-2 in Game 5 on Saturday night, disappointing a packed house of 10,834 at Van Andel Arena.
The Griffins, the Detroit Red Wings' top farm team, had two chances to win the championship in front of their home fans after capturing Games 1 and 2 in Syracuse, then winning Game 3 at home. But Syracuse, the Tampa Bay Lightning's AHL affiliate, stayed alive with a 3-2 victory on Friday night; this victory sends the best-of-7 series back to Syracuse for Game 6 on Tuesday.
Only three teams in AHL history have rallied to win a playoff series after losing the first three games. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins became the third when they did it against the Providence Bruins in the second round this year. It has never been done in the Calder Cup Final.
Panik, who had the game-winner on Friday, snapped a 2-2 tie by scoring a power-play goal at 11:39 of the second period. Tyler Johnson added an insurance goal 36 seconds into the third, and Dan Sexton closed the scoring by hitting the empty net with 2:44 remaining.
Cedrick Desjardins made 40 saves for the Crunch, including 19 in the second period. Petr Mrazek stopped 16 shots for Grand Rapids, which outshot Syracuse 42-21.
Palat, who assisted on the goals by Panik and Johnson, opened the scoring at 8:39 of the opening period with an unassisted goal, and Brett Connolly scored his second goal in as many nights at 16:09 for a 2-0 lead.
But the Griffins got one goal back before the end of the period when Triston Grant scored at 17:38, then tied it on Tomas Tatar's playoff-high 14th at 5:36 of the second.