Game 3 against the Grand Rapids Griffins was a must-win for the Heat. After trailing most of the game by a goal, they came through, scoring two in the third to win their first game of this year's AHL playoffs.
Joni Ortio and Markus Granlund headed the game's stars: the former stopping 34 of 35 shots for a .971 SV%, the latter scoring the game winning goal on a powerplay called with just under two minutes to go.
The Griffins struck first, when Tomas Jurco, fresh from the Red Wings' playoff elimination, scored a powerplay goal in the first period. The Heat were outshot 14-7 in the first, and things weren't looking great for the team facing elimination; fortunately, that was all Ortio let get past him.
Despite a much better second period, where the Heat outshot the Griffins 10-6, they were still unable to score. That all came in the third period, when the Heat were once again outshot, 15-8: but this time, it didn't matter, because Ortio was there, stopping all of the Griffins' shots and denying them the sweep.
Granlund GWG was sensational. Takes Billins pass, splits D, fends off a slash from one, a hook from the other, goes backhand top shelf. Wow!— Darren Haynes (@DarrenWHaynes) May 1, 2014
You may remember from game 1, Granlund led all players with eight shots on net before the Heat ultimately fell at the end of double overtime. He had three shots this game, while Locke led the way with five.
So chalk this one up to the Flames' Finnish prospects: a stellar performance by the game's second star, Ortio, to keep his team in it the entire time, and a hell of a game winner from the first star Granlund. (Also, Ortio assisted on Granlund's goal, because of course he did: he's assisted on a Granlund goal in the NHL; why not the AHL, too?)
Game 4 is Friday night at 5:00 p.m. MT. The Heat are still facing elimination. They have been outscored in this series 5-10. They still haven't scored more than two goals a game, but hopefully this victory will give them the boost they need, and we'll see a game closer to the first game of the series, but with a better result.
In the meantime, two key Flames prospects played crucial roles in the Heat's victory, and that's all you can really ask for.