Cincinnati played with it on Monday and rode it to a convincing 4-0 victory over Las Vegas in Game 5 of the Kelly Cup Finals in front of a crowd of 6,957 at the Orleans Arena.
Now Las Vegas is the desperate team, facing a 3-2 series deficit and needing to win the final two games of the series on the road to capture the ECHL championship.
Game 6 will take place at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. Neither team has lost consecutive games in this year's playoffs.
"We just want to get this series to Game 7," Wranglers coach Glen Gulutzan said. "Game 7 puts pressure on both teams. Game 6 puts more pressure on us. We have to play for our lives."
Cedrick Desjardins stopped all 27 shots he faced to deal Las Vegas its first shutout loss of the playoffs and its second home shutout loss of the season, in its final home game of the year.
League Most Valuable Player David Desharnais assisted on all four goals for Cincinnati, which scored 3:57 into the contest to take charge and controlled the action throughout.
"We played with much more desperation tonight than we did in (a 2-0 loss) in Game 4," Cyclones coach Chuck Weber said. "That was the difference. We knew we had to come out and get the lead, and to get a 2-0 lead was huge ... especially with Desjardins in the back."
The Wranglers had plenty of chances to score but went 0-for-6 on the power play, falling to 3-for-31 in the series.
"(Desjardins) was very good tonight," Gulutzan said. "We had shots, but your goalie is your best penalty killer, and he was their best player tonight."
Jean-Michel Daoust gave Cincinnati the early 1-0 lead, stuffing the puck inside the far post to beat Las Vegas goalie Kevin Lalande on the Cyclones' third shot of the game. Desharnais set up the play with a pass from behind the net.
Conrad Martin scored a power-play goal midway through the first period to give Cincinnati a 2-0 lead. Desharnais slid a pass from behind the goal line to the right circle, where Martin lifted the puck over Lalande, who was knocked down to the ice during the pass.
"The first (goal) was a little weak, but certainly the second goal wasn't Kevin's fault," Gulutzan said. "He was bowled over by a player, and he wasn't in the net to make the save. I think it should've been goaltender interference, but we shouldn't have been penalty killing at that time. Was that the turning point in the game? No, because we weren't ready to play."
Tyler Mosienko was penalized for slashing to set up the Cincinnati power play.
"We took stupid penalties," Gulutzan said. "Down 1-0, we were still in good shape, but then we take a slashing penalty to the back of a guy's leg. They score on that power play, and there's your game."
The Cyclones took a 3-0 lead 3:24 into the second period when Matt Syroczynski punched the puck into the back of the net from point-blank range to chase Lalande -- who has two shutouts in the series but allowed three goals on 13 shots Monday, after stopping 101 of 108 attempts in the first four games of the series.
"I made the change because we needed to try to shake up the bench and get guys going," Gulutzan said. "We had nothing. We weren't establishing pucks in deep, and we were undisciplined.
"We got outplayed, that's the biggest thing. They were better than us tonight."
Lalande was replaced by Swiss netminder Daniel Manzato, who stopped nine of 10 shots in his second game of the playoffs.
Cincinnati capped the scoring midway through the third period as Ryan Russell beat Manzato with a shot from the right circle.
Several fans threw beer bottles, a cup of soda and a bouncing ball on the ice in the final seconds.
"When you get 7,000 fans in the building, just like in Cincinnati, you have probably 1,500 fans who don't normally come, and those are probably the people throwing things," Gulutzan said.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0354.