Jacob Markstrom stopped 33 shots for the Utica Comets, who downed the Oklahoma City Barons 3-1 Thursday night at the Cox Convention Center to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven AHL Calder Cup Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals series.
The loss puts Oklahoma City on the brink of elimination from the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs, with the team needing wins in Game Six and Game Seven next week in Utica to advance to the Western Conference Finals. Utica can clinch a series win with a victory in either of the remaining two games.
After surrendering six goals in Game Five, Markstrom allowed the Barons just a Brad Hunt goal with 1:09 left in the game, despite Oklahoma City outshooting Utica for the first time since Game One, 34-32. Barons goalie Richard Bachman made 30 saves.
Utica registered a goal in all three periods and took a 1-0 lead at 12:13 of the first when Bobby Sanguinetti sent a turnaround shot from the right circle that Bachman knocked away with his blocker, but Wacey Hamilton was able to flip behind the sprawling Barons net minder.
The Comets increased their lead to 2-0 at 3:54 of the second period after Peter Andersson skated into the Oklahoma City zone before taking a wide open pass from Alex Friesen and wristing a shot over Bachman’s blocker.
A power play chance and an empty net gave the Barons 6-on-4 advantage in the waning minutes of play, and Hunt converted on a slap shot from the left point to get the Barons on the board at 18:51 of the third.
Alexandre Grenier added an empty net goal at 19:44 of the third to secure the win for Utica.
Game Six is at 6 p.m. CDT Monday, May 18, at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.