During the regular season, the Wranglers had one of the worst power plays in the league, converting a paltry 12.4 percent (44-for-356) of their chances.
But Las Vegas leads the league with the man advantage in the playoffs after netting three power-play goals Monday en route to a 4-2 win over the Stockton Thunder in Game 2 of the Pacific Division finals in front of 2,816 fans at the Orleans Arena.
“We never had an atrocious power play, but it became something mental, and when it gets lodged in your brain that the power play doesn’t work, it can affect you,” Wranglers coach Glen Gulutzan said. “Obviously getting some personnel back (from the American Hockey League) — Justin Taylor, Dan Spang, Tyler Mosienko, Mike Hamilton, the list goes on — has helped.”
Sean Owens and Dan Riedel scored power-play goals less than two minutes apart in the first period to give Las Vegas a 2-0 lead, and Adam Miller added another one early in the third period to give the Wranglers a 4-1 edge.
Las Vegas went 3-for-7 with the man advantage Monday and has converted an ECHL-best 24 percent (12-for-50) of its chances in the playoffs.
“Everybody’s going to the net instead of shooting from the perimeter,” Miller said. “We’ve got guys in front banging away. It’s playoff hockey, and that’s how you’ve got to score goals.”
The victory by the Wranglers evens the best-of-7 series 1-1, with the next two games scheduled in Stockton, Calif., on Thursday and Saturday.
“You don’t want to go down 2-0 going back (to Stockton) for two (games) facing elimination,” Gulutzan said. “Now we’re (tied) 1-1 and coming back here for Game 5. Hopefully we can get a split out of there at least.”
After getting pulled in a 4-3 loss to the Thunder in Game 1, allowing three first-period goals, Las Vegas goalie Glenn Fisher bounced back Monday, stopping 23 of 25 shots for his fourth playoff win.
“I wasn’t as sharp as I could’ve been in the last game,” Fisher said. “Tonight I felt just as prepared, but we got the bounces, and I made the saves I had to.”
The Wranglers, who blew their fourth two-goal lead of the playoffs in Game 1, managed to hold onto a 2-0 edge in this one, extending it to 3-0 on a goal by Jason Dest with 1:29 left in the first period.
James Bates scored a power-play goal for Stockton with 15 seconds left in the second period to make it a 3-1 game, and David Rohlfs netted a goal midway through the third period for the final margin.
Las Vegas outshot the Thunder 30-25 and also went 2-0 in back-to-back brawls in the second period, with J.D. Watt dropping Igor Gongalsky and 6-foot-5-inch Steve Makway getting the best of 5-foot-8-inch Garet Hunt.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at email@example.com or 702-383-0354.