LOVELAND, Colo. – The Las Vegas Wranglers defeated the Colorado Eagles, 6-2, taking the third game in four nights this week at the Budweiser Events Center. Steve Haddon took advantage of fortunate bounces in getting both of Colorado’s goals, while five different Wranglers found the back of the net.
The teams played an even first period that saw each register nine shots on goal, but the Wranglers were able to get one of theirs past Kyle Jones to take a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. Just five seconds after their power play expired, Robbie Smith snapped a shot from the right circle into the top right corner of the cage for the period’s lone goal.
Las Vegas stretched their lead to 4-0 with three goals within a four and a half minute span in the second period. At 2:08 of the second stanza, Josh Lunden made it 2-0 with a goal nearly identical to the game’s first.
Then at 3:41, Eric Lampe stole the puck in the high slot as the Eagles were exiting their own zone. Lampe turned around, skated in on Jones & put the puck past his right leg after some slick stich-handling in the low slot. The point pushed him into a tie for the league lead with Chad Costello.
Then, at 6:33 of the second period, Peter MacArthur swatted home a loose puck from the low slot to make it 4-0. It took another four and a half minutes before the Eagles would get on the board, and it came in extremely unusual fashion.
At 10:59, Haddon flipped the puck over the Las Vegas net from behind the goal only to have it hit off a Wranglers defenseman stationed at the right post. As the puck was traveling down toward the crease, Lampe whacked it out of the air, but directly into his own net. The “shot” was the Eagles’ first of the second period and ended over 120 minutes of shutout hockey for Joe Fallon (121:28) dating to Wednesday night’s game.
The goal seemed to spark the Eagles as their first actual shot of the period came soon after, but just as they were building some momentum, the Wranglers were awarded a 5-on-3 power play. It took Las Vegas just 15 seconds of it before Lunden notched his second score of the period by putting home his own rebound from the doorstep, making it 5-1.
The Eagles out-shot the Wranglers 18-4 in the final frame, showing their best jump of the night. And although they were awarded consecutive power plays early in the period, the Wranglers’ third-ranked penalty-killing unit kept them at bay as part of a perfect 6-for-6 night.
Haddon trimmed the Wranglers’ lead to 5-2 at 8:34 after an odd carom off the left wing glass sent the puck into the high slot where the veteran forward stepped into a slap-shot that beat Fallon as he scrambled back into position in the crease.
The Eagles continued to pressure the Las Vegas net, but Fallon stood tall, stopping Riley Nelson on a rush at 14:20 and preventing a golden opportunity for Colorado to close the gap even more. And a minute later, a turnover at the offensive blue line led to a 3-on-0 rush for the Wranglers’ top line that culminated with Lampe finding Adam Miller for a 6-2 lead.
Colorado kept coming, and with 1:15 left, Michael Forney rung a shot off the top right crux of the goal with a power-play shot from between the circles, and that was as close as the home team would get to making its comeback bid.