Utica eliminates Grand Rapids Griffins from conference finals with 2-0 shutout

Well, Detroit Red Wings fans will find this a little eerily familiar. Going into an elimination game and getting shut out in the process?

The Grand Rapids Griffins were faced with the daunting task of having to win two straight games on the road against the Western Conference’s best team in the regular season in the Utica Comets. The Griffins were already 3-0 in elimination games in these playoffs, taking three straight in the opening series to advance to the semifinals. Utica would prove to be just too daunting of a task though.

After a scoreless first period, the Comet’s Cory Conacher potted the first of the game in the second period, which would ultimately be the only marker they needed. The second tally would come courtesy of Alexandre Grenier into the empty net with 1:14 remaining in the game. 

Much of the Griffins’ success this series was thanks to the play of Tom McCollum who, while still shaky at some questionable moments, came up huge with some stellar saves to keep Grand Rapids alive at various points of the post-season run. The Griffins’ offense simply ran into a hot goaltender in the form of Utica’s Jacob Markstrom, who needed only 21 saves in Game 6 to shut the Grand Rapids’ offense down for the final time this year.

As disappointing as the loss is, the post-season run gave many of the Red Wings’ prospects some much-needed playoff experience, which will prove invaluable when it comes time for preseason. It also allows the organization time to focus on the future of Jeff Blashill. He’s expected to be named the Red Wings’ new coach in the coming weeks, but Ken Holland has not made a formal comment on when the announcement will come, with NHL combine and competition meetings currently on the docket. 

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Thanks for another great year of hockey, Griffs!

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