The Barons turned three Grand Rapids mistakes into a 3-0 lead.
Ben Eager got behind the defense for a breakaway, scoring from the high slot on a 25-foot wrist shot. Just over a minute later, team captain Josh Green knocked down Riley Sheahan's pass by the side of the net, turned and fired to score his fourth goal of the playoffs.
Philippe Cornet, left unguarded, scored off a beautiful pass from Brandon Davidson with 3:25 left in the opening period.
“We finally got some breaks,” Cheechoo said. “But we've done the right things for so long we finally were rewarded with a few breaks.”
Three different lines scored for the Barons. Eager, on the fourth line, scored his first goal of the playoffs. Green is on the No. 3 line.
“In the playoffs you need scoring from everyone,” Green said. “Secondary scoring is extremely important. We've relied on the top two lines for a lot of the offense. Speaking for the third line, we have to chip in whenever we can. More importantly, we need to play physical.”
This series could get real physical. It's inevitable after players hit one another game after game in a series. But the Western Conference finals could get really chippy after Grand Rapids forward Triston Grant knocked Barons forward Tanner House unconscious in the second period.
House was taken off the ice on a stretcher and transported to the hospital. Tempers lasted until the final buzzer when the Barons' C.J. Stretch and Grand Rapids' Mitch Callahan took off the gloves with 0:00 showing.
“The intensity ramps up in a series. I expect the same Friday night,” Nelson said. “We're not going to change the way we're going to play, and I'm pretty sure they'll stick with their game plan.
“It's two good teams going at it. Sometimes tempers flare. That's just the way it is. Calmer heads need to prevail. We have to be disciplined. We have to focus on the task at hand.”