In a four-game regular season series that saw the two teams combine for at least seven goals per game, Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals had a decidedly defensive feel.
Landon Ferraro scored what proved to be the game winner early in the second period to give the Grand Rapids Griffins a 2-1 win and a 1-0 series lead in the best-of-7 series over the Oklahoma City Barons.
After a brief period of back-and-forth play to start the contest, Grand Rapids would strike first 7:15 into the first period. Riley Sheahan worked the puck to the left point where Brennan Evans fired a shot goalward that eluded Barons goaltender Yann Danis. The goal was Evans' first since a second period goal against the Abbotsford Heat as a member of the Peoria Rivermen on February 21, 2012.
While both teams were in the midst of a line change, the Barons would pot their only goal of the game. Mark Arcobello chipped the puck to Jonathan Cheechoo along the Barons offensive zone blueline. He delayed long enough for defenseman Andrew Hotham to join the play. Hotham strided in to the top of the left-wing circle and snapped a shot past Griffins goalkeeper Peter Mrazek.
Early in the second period, Grand Rapids cashed in on a Barons turnover and scored what proved to be the game-winning goal. Tomas Jurco was able to free the puck to Mitch Callahan who worked the puck in front and across the crease through a maze of bodies to Landon Ferraro who shoveled the puck into the open net.
After a wide open second period that featured 29 combined shots, the teams clamped down defensively in the third period and combined for just 11 shots on goal. Oklahoma City pulled Yann Danis in favor of an extra attacker with just over a minute to play. They were able to get the puck near the goal, but were unable to score the tying goal.
Yann Danis stopped 26 of the 28 shots he faced in the loss. He falls to 7-4 for the postseason.
Oklahoma City looks to rebound in Game 2 of the series Saturday night in Grand Rapids. Faceoff is 6 p.m. (CST).
The series shifts to Oklahoma City for Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary). Game 3 is May 29, while Game 4 is May 31. Games in Oklahoma City will be played at the Cox Convention Center at 7 p.m.