Pair of Late Goals Lead Las Vegas to Win
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The Las Vegas Wranglers scored goals in bunches to top the Colorado Eagles, 5-3. The home team built an early 2-0 lead with tallies 21 seconds apart and emerged from a tied game late with another pair 70 seconds apart in handing the Eagles a loss as they begin a four-game road trip that will take place in three different cities over five days.
Shots were doled out like playing cards during the first period, in which Las Vegas out-shot Colorado 23-11, and out-scored them by a similar 2-1 clip. For his part, Andrew Penner’s 21 saves were the second-most in an opening period for an Eagles netminder in team history (22 is the record).
Eric Lampe, the league’s leading goal scorer, proved that he hadn’t lost his touch as he played in his first game back with the Wranglers after an AHL call-up. He got the game’s first goal five minutes in by snapping a shot top-shelf from the right circle. And just 21 seconds later, Las Vegas took a 2-0 lead when Ryan Weston shot home a loose puck from below the same circle.
Colorado cut that lead in half five minutes later when Joey Sides sent the puck toward the net from the left point and had it deflected past Mitch O’Keefe by Liam Huculak. The deflection was a beauty as the big-bodied forward tipped the puck through his legs as he skated through the low slot with his back to the net.
The game was much tighter in the second period as the Eagles out-shot the Wranglers 10-9, tying the game with a 5-on-3 power-play goal before Las Vegas scored a late tally to take a 3-2 lead into the second intermission.
The Eagles knotted the score up at 2, 3:22 into the second stanza, when Sides was tripped by two different Wranglers within 30 seconds, leading to a full two-man advantage. It took Colorado just 16 seconds to capitalize on that chance when — who else — Sides put home a shot from the low slot after Kevin Ulanski and Steve Haddon passed the puck back and forth from circle to circle.
Penner made several strong stops to keep the score tied the rest of the period, but at 17:11 Colorado turned the puck over high in their own zone and Adam Huxley, Las Vegas’ penalty minutes leader, snapped a shot top-shelf form the high slot to give the home team a 3-2 advantage.
Following the tripping penalties against Sides — the only power plays Colorado received all night — the Wranglers were awarded each of the game’s final five power plays by referee Ryan Murphy. However, the Eagles fought through the adversity, going a perfect 7-for-7 on the penalty kill on the night.
And at 12:39 of the third period, the visitors tied the game at 3 with a goal similar to their first when amateur defenseman Isaac Smeltzer’s shot from the left point was deflected by Alex Penner — Colorado’s penalty minutes leader — in the slot.
But the Wranglers would take back the lead less than five minutes later when Judd Blackwater one-timed a cross-ice pass from the right circle. And 70 seconds later, Sean Wiles would beat the Eagles’ netminder with a shot from atop the left circle on a rush to ice the contest.
Colorado will bus to Bakersfield, Calif. overnight before taking on the Condors Wednesday evening. Their road trip will then conclude with a pair of games Friday & Saturday in Utah.
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