Aces strike early, slip by Wranglers

Alaska center Alexandre Imbeault had a hat trick before the second period was over.

The game was all but over, too, for the Wranglers, who trailed the Aces by three goals after the first period and didn’t recover in a 4-3 loss Saturday night at the Orleans Arena.

Alaska improved to 14-0 when leading after two periods, and Las Vegas fell to 2-11 when trailing after two.

The Aces scored three first-period goals to chase Wranglers goalie Kevin Lalande, who returned from a bereavement leave.

Imbeault gave the Aces (17-11-1) a 1-0 lead midway through the first when he took a pass from behind the net and banged it home. Alaska then scored two power-play goals in 52 seconds to take a 3-0 lead.

With the Aces enjoying a lengthy two-man advantage, Imbeault punched the puck inside the post to make it 2-0 with 2:35 left in the period.

Less than a minute later, when Alaska had a man advantage, Tony Tuzzolino scored from almost the same spot as Imbeault for a 3-0 edge.

Las Vegas (12-14-2), which entered with the second-best penalty kill (89.3 percent) in the ECHL, answered with two Shawn Limpright goals in 95 seconds to pull within 3-2.

With 51 seconds left in the first, Matt Beaudoin zipped a pass from the right circle to the front of the net, where a streaking Limpright poked the puck past Alaska goalie J.P. Lamoureux (32 saves) to make it 3-1.

Limpright closed the gap to 3-2 54 seconds into the second period on another play set up by Beaudoin, who took a pass in the slot and did a 360-degree turn before passing the puck.

But Las Vegas came up empty on three second-period power plays. Alaska had no such problem. Imbeault netted his third goal of the game, and the third power-play goal for the Aces, with 3:30 left in the second period to make it 4-2.

Imbeault took a pass in the left circle from Colin Hemingway, who assisted on all three of his goals, and beat Wranglers goalie John DeCaro, who stopped 15 of 16 shots.

Peter Ferraro, Las Vegas’ leading scorer last year, scored just his second goal of the season with 8:25 left in the game to pull the Wranglers within 4-3. Las Vegas had several chances to tie it but went 0-for-7 on its league-worst power play (18-for-162).

The Wranglers, who host the Aces again at 2 p.m. today, saw their two-game win streak end and still haven’t won three straight games this season.

NOTES — Wranglers center Hugo Carpentier was called up to Quad City of the American Hockey League. Other Las Vegas players currently in the AHL are forwards J.D. Watt (Quad City), Mike Hamilton (Houston) and Tyler Mosienko (Manchester), and defenseman Gord Baldwin (Quad City).

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

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