The Wranglers have put together some incredible runs the last two years. They'll need to embark on another one to stay alive in the ECHL playoffs.
Idaho scored three second-period goals to take a 3-1 lead and held on for a 4-3 victory in Game 4 of the National Conference semifinals Thursday night at the Orleans Arena.
The Steelheads lead the best-of-7 series 3-1. Game 5 is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. today at the Orleans.
After winning a league-record 18 straight games, the Wranglers have lost three in a row in regulation for the first time this season.
Las Vegas, which finished the regular season with the league's best record, also trailed Idaho 3-1 in last year's playoffs before becoming the second team in league history to overcome that deficit to win a series.
"For the guys that were here last year, we did this. We came back from this, and we had a streak this year that obviously went our way for a long time," said Wranglers goalie Mike McKenna, who stopped 26 of 29 shots while losing his third straight start after 12 wins in a row. "We know we're capable of going on a run, but something's got to be the catalyst for it to happen. We've got to get a bounce go off a guy's shin pads and in the net or (something like that). Something's got to create it to happen."
Idaho got all the bounces Thursday, scoring its first two goals in fortunate fashion.
The Steelheads tied the score 1-1 at the 6:01 mark of the second period when Blake Forsyth fired a shot on net from the left circle that bounced through a bevy of bodies and into the net. Lance Galbraith was credited with the goal after apparently getting a stick on the puck.
"They got a seeing-eye single there on the first goal they scored," Las Vegas coach Glen Gulutzan said. "It went through about 10 guys and found its way in. You couldn't duplicate that (goal) if you tried 100,000 times.
"They got some bounces. We didn't. I felt Wednesday night that they outplayed us, but we outplayed them tonight. We just didn't get any puck luck."
Idaho got plenty of puck luck on Galbraith's second goal, which gave the Steelheads a 2-1 lead with 7:42 left in the second that they wouldn't relinquish.
While being checked toward the far boards, an off-balance Galbraith flicked the puck toward the net with one hand. McKenna stopped the shot, but the puck bounced off the chest of Wranglers defenseman Mike McBain into the net.
"We're not getting the bounces, but we're not creating them for ourselves," McKenna said. "We can't blame the series on bounces, though. We know we have to come out and dominate them. We can't play even with them. We've got to be at our best, executing our system and burying our chances.
"Ultimately, that's much more important than getting any bounces."