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Teemu Pulkkinen's hat trick leads Grand Rapids Griffins over Rockford IceHogs 5-3 in Game 1

Rockford drops first game in 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs.

Mark Newman of Grand Rapids Griffins

Teemu Pulkkinen scored a hat trick to lead the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 5-3 victory over the Rockford IceHogs on Wednesday night at Van Andel Arena, giving the second-seeded Griffins a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven-series.

Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals is scheduled for Friday night in Michigan.

The American Hockey League's most prolific goal scorer this season netted his seventh, eighth and ninth goals of the Calder Cup Playoffs. Stephen Johns and Garret Ross both scored for Rockford to eliminate a 3-1 deficit to start the third period, but Pulkkinen tallied the game-winner with 2:46 left in regulation.

Pulkkinen scored 34 goals in 46 games during the regular season.

Louis-Marc Aubry added an empty-netter for the Griffins with 18 seconds left for a 5-3 win.

Johns played overtime hero for the IceHogs in Game 3 against the Texas Stars in the first-round, and he was the spark for the third period rally with a goal and an assist. The rookie defenseman cut the deficit to 3-2 when he rocketed a shot from the blue line through traffic past Tom McCollum's glove side at 3:16.

Six minutes later, Johns sent another shot to the net that Ross tipped in, for his second goal of the playoffs, to tie it 3-3.

Pulkkinen created the deficit late in the second with a pair of goals in 3:23, both off feeds from Tyler Bertuzzi and Andy Miele. Bertuzzi only played in two games in the regular season, but has notched five points (two goals, three assists) in four playoff games.

Mark McNeill's first goal of the postseason tied the the game at one near the halfway mark of the second. Ross sent a pass to McNeill, who blasted a one-timer past McCollum.

Kevin Porter opened the scoring for the Griffins with a backhander past Michael Leighton just two minutes into the game. Porter also assisted Aubry on the empty-netter.

Leighton allowed four goals on 28 shots in his first loss of the playoffs. McCollum won his fourth-straight game while stopping 34 shots.

The IceHogs will try to even the series when the teams take the ice for Game 2 Friday.

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