Ben Street scored the game-winner in double overtime and talks about the close series against Syracuse. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
Grand Rapids — Four hours and six minutes later, it was finally over.
Ben Street scored in double overtime Saturday to give the Grand Rapids Griffins a 6-5 victory over the Syracuse Crunch and a commanding lead in the Calder Cup Finals.
Street scored his second goal of the game after the Crunch failed to clear the zone, Eric Tangradi intercepted the pass, and found Street in the slot.
“He had some room there and skated it in and a made a nice little pass over to me,” Street said. “I knew I was in a scoring area, so I just tried to drag it a little bit and make the goalie open up.
“I was lucky it found the back of the net.”
The series shifts to Syracuse Wednesday for Game 3. Game 4 and, if necessary, Game 5 are also in Syracuse under the 2-3-2 series format.
Despite the series lead, the Griffins know this series is far from over after two extremely close, one-goal victories.
“We expect close games, it’s the finals, it’s a good team over there,” forward Tyler Bertuzzi said. “They fought to the very end. Obviously we’re up 2-0, and it’s a really good feeling, but we know we got outworked in the first overtime.
“The whole game was pretty close. We’re happy with where we are but we have a lot better in us.”
Bertuzzi scored his seventh goal of the playoffs at 13:36 of the third period, giving Grand Rapids a 5-4 lead.
Goalie Jared Coreau made 50 saves but was especially good in Saturday's overtime periods. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
But the Crunch answered with Michael Bournival tying the score at 15:15.
Syracuse outshot the Griffins 19-11 in overtime — 55-52 for the game — with Griffins goalie Jared Coreau having to make at least three outstanding saves to keep the game going in the first overtime.
“Going into overtime your senses are heightened, you’re ready for anything,” said Coreau, who made 50 saves. “One mistake could lead to the win or loss. I don’t mind it. That’s what’s going to win a championship. You have to have some periods where you steal it for the guys.”
Coreau stopped Syracuse’s Byron Froese on a penalty shot with 5:07 left in the game, preserving the 5-4 Grand Rapids lead at the time.
Crunch forward Cory Conacher tied the game 4-4 with a power-play goal at 7:47 of the third period, his 10th goal of the playoffs.
Grand Rapids scored three power-play goals, including Tomas Nosek’s 10th goal at 24 seconds of the third period, which broke a 3-3 tie.
Martin Frk and Evgeny Svechnikov added the other two Griffins power-play goals.
Grand Rapids has now scored a power-play goal in 13 consecutive playoff games.
Saturday’s sellout crowd of 10,834 at Van Andel Arena was the third sellout of a Finals game in Griffins history — and eighth sellout in franchise history.
Yan Gourde, Joel Vermin and Erick Condra (Trenton) added Syracuse goals.
Griffins coach Todd Nelson was at a loss for words after the game.
“It was back-and-forth all night, two real good hockey teams going at it,” Nelson said. “Both games could have gone either way. I’m happy we got the two at home to save home-ice advantage.
“But it was everything tonight. Penalty shot, power play goals, great saves on both ends. I’m speechless.”
Syracuse vs. Grand Rapids
All games at 7 p.m.
Game 1: Grand Rapids 3-2
Game 2: Grand Rapids 6-5 (2OT)
Wednesday: at Syracuse
Friday: at Syracuse
x-Saturday: at Syracuse
x-June 13: at Grand Rapids
x-June 14: at Grand Rapids