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Aces again clamp down on Wranglers

Fans are encouraged to wear white at the Orleans Arena on Tuesday to support the Wranglers in Game 3 of the National Conference finals.

But if the top-seeded Alaska Aces continue to dominate Las Vegas like they did in Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-7 series, the white clothing might as well stand for surrender.

Alaska outshot, outplayed and nearly shut out the Wranglers for the second straight game Sunday en route to a 4-1 win in front of 4,595 fans at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.

The Aces, the top remaining seed in the ECHL Kelly Cup playoffs, took a 2-0 series lead and improved to 6-0 in the playoffs at home, where they have outscored opponents 21-3.

Las Vegas, which went 0-for-7 on its league-leading power play Sunday and is 0-for-11 in the series, faces a virtual must-win situation Tuesday at home, where the Wranglers are 6-2 in the playoffs.

"Going back home down 2-0, our backs are almost against the wall," Las Vegas forward Mike Hamilton said. "It’s very important for us to get a win in Game 3. That’s all we’re focusing on."

Games 4 and 5, if necessary, will be played Thursday and Friday at the Orleans Arena.

Alaska goaltender J.P. Lamoureux, the league’s Most Valuable Player, stopped 23 of 24 Las Vegas shots to improve to 10-2 in the playoffs. He was 7:05 away from his second straight shutout of the Wranglers when defenseman Dan Spang scored a short-handed goal to make it 4-1.

"Obviously, we’re not finishing," Hamilton said. "We only have one goal in two games."

Las Vegas was outshot by Alaska 22-12 in the first two periods before outshooting the Aces 12-3 in the third.

"I thought we played all right," Wranglers coach Glen Gulutzan said. "We just didn’t get some bounces and we got behind the eight ball, and that’s tough up here."

As he did in Alaska’s 2-0 Game 1 win Saturday, Lance Galbraith scored a power-play goal, off a feed from Alexandre Imbeault, to give the Aces a 1-0 edge.

Las Vegas goalie Glenn Fisher stopped the initial shot by Imbeault, but Galbraith buried the rebound just 2:53 into the game. The Aces finished 1-for-7 on the power play.

Luke Erickson netted an unassisted goal midway through the first period to give Alaska a 2-0 advantage. The puck popped out of Fisher’s glove and rolled across the goal line behind him.

Imbeault backhanded home a rebound with 7:47 left in the second period to give the Aces a 3-0 lead, leading Gulutzan to send in John DeCaro for Fisher, who gave up three goals on 19 shots.

Vladimir Novak beat DeCaro 6:02 into the third period to make it 4-0.

The game got chippy down the stretch, as Wranglers forward Steve Makway drew fighting and game misconduct penalties midway through the third period and Las Vegas center Tyler Mosienko incurred a fighting major and goaltender interference minor.

Alaska forward Josh Soares was penalized for instigating and fighting, and Lamoureux drew a misconduct penalty for throwing equipment.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0354.

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