Kelly Czuy, Dan Riedel and Adam Miller didn't play on the same line much during the regular season, but they were in sync with each other Friday in Game 1 of the Pacific Division semifinals at the Orleans Arena.
The talented trio did all the scoring for the Wranglers in their 3-1 win over the Bakersfield Condors, combining for three goals and five assists to lift Las Vegas to a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.
"They have a little bit of chemistry. That's why we put them together," Wranglers coach Glen Gulutzan said. "They had it tonight."
Czuy scored two goals and had an assist, Miller added a goal and an assist, and Riedel assisted on all three goals.
"We finally figured it out in practice. As a line, we connected," said Miller, who scored 16 points in 20 playoff games last season. "We know where one another is going to be at all times."
Brett Pilkington buried a rebound in front of the net to give the Condors a 1-0 lead 34 seconds into the game, but that's as good as things got for Bakersfield as the line of Czuy, Riedel and Miller took over after that.
Czuy scored on a breakaway at 6:51 of the first period to tie it 1-1. Riedel came up with the puck off a Condors turnover and fed Czuy, who streaked down the left side of the ice and slid the puck between the legs of Bakersfield goalie Yutaka Fukufuji, who finished with 28 saves.
"We were a little junky in the first five minutes," Gulutzan said. "But I thought we settled in nicely (after that), and Kelly Czuy scored a big goal for us there. He kind of reset us a little bit, and we played well in stretches after that."
Las Vegas cashed in on another Condors turnover to take a 2-1 lead with 2:36 left in the first. Riedel centered a pass in the slot to Czuy, and he dished it to Miller, who beat Fukufuji from the bottom of the right circle.
Czuy scored his second goal of the game 4:33 into the second period, when he took a pass from Miller in the left circle and fired it into the back of the net to give the Wranglers a 3-1 advantage.
"My linemates played great tonight," said the soft-spoken Czuy, who lives with Riedel. "We started to play together at the end of the year, and we reconnected tonight as a line."
Czuy scored 17 points in 21 playoff games for Las Vegas in last year's run to the Kelly Cup Finals, and he seems to pick up his game in the postseason more than most players.
"I don't know what it is with that guy, but I certainly hope he can continue this pace," Gulutzan said. "Last year, if I had three top players in the playoffs, Kelly Czuy was one of them -- if he wasn't the best -- and he's kind of picked up right where he left off. He comes to play when the chips are down."
Las Vegas outshot Bakersfield 31-29 and killed all five Condors power plays. Wranglers goalie Glenn Fisher stopped 28 of 29 shots.
• NOTES -- Las Vegas defenseman Brandon Straub was activated off the injured reserve, and center Justin Taylor also returned to the Wranglers, from the American Hockey League's Milwaukee Admirals. Las Vegas also expects to get forwards Mike Hamilton and J.D. Watt and defenseman Dan Spang back from the AHL on Monday.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0354.