GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The Toronto Marlies battled back from a two-goal deficit but couldn't complete the comeback Wednesday night, losing 5-4 to the Grand Rapids Griffins in Game 3 of the AHL Western Conference semifinals.
The Griffins now own a 2-1 series lead entering Game 4 Friday night in Grand Rapids.
If Toronto had gained any momentum after a 4-2 home win in Game 2 that evened the series, it disappeared quickly after a dismal start.
The Marlies allowed a pair of goals in the first six minutes of play as Grand Rapids? pressured goalie Drew MacIntyre early.
Toronto was outshot 13-2 in the first 10 minutes and trailed 2-0 after Griffins? goals from Adam Almquist and Jeff Hoggan, whose goal was banked in from the side off MacIntyre?s back.
Ryan Hamilton paid early dividends in his first game since joining the Marlies following the Maple Leafs? Game 7 loss to Boston. He scored late in the first period to trim the Griffins? lead to 2-1.
Grand Rapids took a 3-1 lead less than three minutes into the second period on a goal by Tomas Tatar, but the Marlies answered.
Toronto made it 3-2 on an unassisted goal from Spencer Abbott and tied it five minutes later on a power-goal by Greg McKegg, who trickled in a shot past Grand Rapids??? goalie Petr Mrazek.
The Griffins regained the lead with nearly three minutes remaining in the second as Francis Pare pushed a shot over MacIntyre???s shoulder to put Grand Rapids ahead 4-3.
In the third, the Marlies gave up a goal to Jan Mursak 46 seconds in and again faced a two-goal hole.
It was 5-4 after Carter Ashton scored at the 15-minute mark, and the Marlies nearly tied it in the last three minutes but a shot by Mike Zigomanis deflected off the post.
Toronto was outshot 32-20 and MacIntyre finished with 28 saves.