Detroit — It started badly and never really got any better Saturday for the Grand Rapids Griffins.
And because of the result, a 5-1 loss in Syracuse, there’s more hockey to be played at Van Andel Arena.
Grand Rapids returns home Tuesday for Game 6 — and an opportunity to win its second Calder Cup in five years, this time on home ice.
The Griffins still lead the best-of-seven series 3-2, but Saturday’s loss stung.
Syracuse scored all five goals in the first period, including Crunch forward Kevin Lynch (Grosse Pointe/Michigan) scoring 17 seconds into the game.
From there, it just snowballed.
“We turned it over and they capitalized,” Griffins coach Todd Nelson told reporters after the game. “They played well. The mistakes we made out there, especially early, cost us.
“Everybody in our dressing room can take responsibility (for the loss).”
Except for backup goalie Eddie Pasquale, who stopped all 19 shots he faced in relief of Jared Coreau (five goals allowed on 12 shots).
“(Pasquale) was our best player,” Nelson said.
Ben Street scored the lone Griffins goal, his eighth of the playoffs, in the third period.
Grand Rapids outshot the Crunch 37-31 — including 18-12 in the strange first period. The Griffins couldn’t convert on the power play (0-for-5, and 0-for-16 in the three games in Syracuse) and were too often in the penalty box (Syracuse was 1-for-9 on the power play).
“Bizarre, a real bizarre first period,” Griffins captain Nathan Paetsch told reporters of the game’s turning point. “The chances we gave up were too good.”
Syracuse would appear to have the momentum and confidence heading into Game 6. But the Griffins feel things can stabilize playing before the home fans, with an opportunity to claim the Calder Cup.
“We’ve shown resilience throughout the playoffs and have come back real strong,” Paetsch said. “We have to take the positive out of it, we’re (ahead) 3-2 (in the series) and going home.”
Calder Cup Finals
Syracuse vs. Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids leads series 3-2
Game 1: Grand Rapids 3-2
Game 2: Grand Rapids 6-5 (2OT)
Game 3: Syracuse 5-3
Game 4: Grand Rapids 3-2
Game 5: Syracuse 5-1
Tuesday: at Grand Rapids, 7 p.m.
x-Wednesday: at Grand Rapids, 7 p.m.