After going 1-6-3 on the longest road trip in franchise history, the reeling Wranglers returned home Friday in dire need of a victory.
Thanks to three third-period goals, they got one -- a 4-1 win over National Conference-leading Idaho -- but the game at the Orleans Arena was much closer than the final score suggests.
Las Vegas defenseman Mike Madill scored a tiebreaking goal on a slap shot from the left circle with 11:21 left to play, giving the Wranglers a 2-1 lead.
Less than a minute later -- after penalties on Jason Dest and Rob Ricci -- the Wranglers (28-26-8) found themselves two men down for 1:37. But the Steelheads (36-19-4) couldn't cash in against Las Vegas' strong penalty-kill unit and Wranglers goalie Glenn Fisher, who stopped 26 of 27 shots.
"That was the turning point in my mind, for sure," coach Glen Gulutzan said. "That kill was huge. Madill, Bret Tyler, Fisher and Chris Neiszner did a hell of a job there."
Wranglers forward Adam Miller scored with 5:58 remaining to give Las Vegas a 3-1 lead, and Peter Ferraro added an empty-net goal with eight seconds to play.
The speedy Miller streaked in on Steelheads goalie Matt Clime, then dropped a pass in the slot to Kelly Czuy on an odd-man rush. Czuy faked a shot, then dished the puck back to Miller, who poked it into the back of the net.
"That's what we need to do in tight games. I thought we got better as the game went on," Gulutzan said. "We're clawing for points and trying to get into the playoffs."
It was only the Wranglers' second win in their last 14 games. After winning a season-high eight straight games, Las Vegas -- which has played short-handed for more than a month -- went on a 10-game winless skid (0-6-4).
Justin Taylor returned from the American Hockey League on Friday and made an instant impact, scoring 2:28 into the game for a 1-0 lead and later assisting on Ferraro's goal.
Sean Garrity scored a power-play goal for Idaho, which went 1-for-7 with the man advantage, with 7:18 left in the first period.
Taylor, Ferraro and Miller each had a goal and an assist for the Wranglers.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at email@example.com or 702-383-0354.