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Barracuda vs Griffins Game 5 Preview: Backs against the wall

It’s win, or go home.

Mark Newman / Grand Rapids Griffins

The San Jose Barracuda’s Calder Cup hopes are on life support. San Jose trails the Grand Rapids Griffins three games to one in the Western Conference Finals, and needs to win at Van Andel Arena tonight in order to send the series back to the SAP Center.

Home ice has provided the Griffins a distinct advantage. Grand Rapids is undefeated in six games in front of the home crowd this postseason, and has outscored opponents 29-14.

Only the Syracuse Crunch (+20) have a better goal differential on home ice than the Griffins, and Grand Rapids’ advantage was on full display last night. The Griffins scored four unanswered goals in the second period en route to a 5-2 win, and out-shot the Barracuda 24-12 over the game’s final 40 minutes.

Last night marked the first time San Jose lost consecutive games all postseason, and only the third time Ryan Carpenter failed to score a point. Carpenter fell out of the AHL scoring lead, and now sits in third place.

Carpenter, Barclay Goodrow, Kevin Labanc, and Timo Meier, four of San Jose’s six highest-scoring forwards this postseason, each had more penalty minutes than shots on goal last night, as the Barracuda scored less than three goals for the third time in four games against the Griffins.

Grand Rapids goaltender Jared Coreau was a big reason why. Coreau stopped 26 shots, and now has a .937 SV% in this series.

Troy Grosenick, the Baz Bastien Award winner during the regular season as the AHL’s best goaltender, has only managed a .900 SV%, but was not given much defensive support last night. Grosenick just might need to steal tonight’s game if San Jose is to force a Game 6.

A Roy Sommer-coached Sharks AHL affiliate has twice in this position entering the fifth game of a series. In 2000, the Kentucky Thoroughblades were eliminated in a Game 5 of the second round on the road.

The Worcester Sharks prolonged a first round series with a Game 5 win on the road ten years ago. Worcester was eliminated a game later.