The San Jose Barracuda lost a Game 3 for the first time all postseason on Wednesday night, and now trail the Grand Rapids 2-1 in the Western Conference Finals following a 4-2 loss. San Jose allowed three unanswered third period goals, and lost a regulation game when they led after two periods for the first time all season.
John McCarthy opened the scoring with an unassisted goal just over five minutes into the first period, but Grand Rapids’ Nathan Paetsch equalized eight-and-a-half minutes later with his first goal of the postseason.
With five minutes to go in the first period, Ryan Carpenter scored his AHL-leading ninth playoff goal to give the Barracuda a 2-1 lead. Carpenter’s goal was his 17th point of the postseason, which is tied with Providence Bruins forward Danton Heinen for the lead among all skaters.
Neither team found the back of the net in the middle frame, as the clubs played to a virtual deadlock. Grand Rapids held a slight 26-25 edge in shots after the second period, but San Jose still held the edge on the scoreboard.
Matt Lorito eliminated that edge a little under seven minutes into the third period with a power play goal, his fifth goal of the postseason. The ice continued to tilt in the home team’s favor throughout the third, and Grand Rapids outshot San Jose 16-8 during the final 20 minutes of regulation.
Nearly ten minutes after Lorito’s game-tying goal, the Griffins’ persistence paid off. Mitch Callahan scored his fifth goal of the postseason with 3:40 remaining in regulation, and gave Grand Rapids a lead that would prove insurmountable.
Tomas Nosek added an empty-net goal with 59 seconds remaining in regulation to seal the Griffins’ Game 3 victory. Grand Rapids is in familiar position, and have now led after three games of each of their series this postseason.
The same, however, cannot be said of San Jose. The Barracuda have not trailed in any of the three series during their Calder Cup playoff run, and now face an uphill climb to gain the lead in the Western Conference Finals.
San Jose has two more chances in Grand Rapids to ensure the series heads back to the SAP Center. The first is in Game 4 on Friday at 4:00 PM PST.