The Utah Grizzlies have had a good track record in Game 3s of a playoff series. They have won their previous two dating to last season. Trailing the Fort Wayne Komets 2-0 in their best-of-seven series, they needed that streak to continue.
The Komets scored three goals in the third period and won 3-1 on Wednesday night at the Maverik Center. Utah will need to win four in a row for the season to continue, starting with Game 4 on Friday night.
"We had a game plan going into the third period and we didn't stick to it," Utah coach Tim Branham said. "We talk about playing a full 60 minutes all the time and we fell asleep in the third. If we want to claw back into this series, we need to play our best hockey and we haven't."
Utah relinquished two goals in the span of five minutes and suddenly a 1-0 lead evaporated into a 2-1 deficit. Shawn Szydlowski tied the affair at 1:50 as the puck escaped through the pads of Grizzlies goaltender Mark Owuya. Shortly after, Fort Wayne found itself on a two-on-one rush as Troy Bourke fed teammate Mike Embach to give the Komets their first lead of the game.
Garrett Thompson clinched the game at 18:30 with the game's final goal.
Utah had its share of chances to tie the game but were unsuccessful. Forward Ryan Hayes grabbed a loose puck deep in the Komets zone and deked Komets goalkeeper Pat Nagle to one side, but the goalie stretched out his legs to make a brilliant save. The Grizzlies also had a five-on-three power play with 20 seconds remaining.
Utah's first shot of the game resulted in its goal as Jon Puskar deflected a shot from Charles Sarault past Nagle for a 1-0 lead.
"We have to have a do or die mentality at this point," captain Brent Gwidt said. "We have to continue to have the mindset that this is a best of seven game series and it isn't over yet. You've got to get rid of that frustration and anger really quick before you leave the rink, because Friday is a new game."