The Wranglers got off to a rough start this season under first-year coach Ryan Mougenel, but they might be getting things turned around.
Las Vegas won its third straight game against the Victoria Salmon Kings this week, coming away with a 2-1 victory Friday night at the Orleans Arena.
“As a young coach, sometimes you question whether you’re doing the right thing,” Mougenel said after his team moved into a tie for second place in the Pacific Division with 19 points. “But I’m so proud of our guys. It’s been a great week for us, and I think we’re starting to figure things out.”
Francis Lemieux’s goal with 5:12 remaining broke a 1-1 tie to lift the Wranglers (9-12-1), who now will play three straight games at Victoria. Las Vegas had to survive a 6-on-4 disadvantage with Lemieux in the penalty box for the final 36.7 seconds and Victoria having pulled goaltender David Shantz for an extra skater.
“We were really businesslike and kept our emotions in check,” Mougenel said. “We tightened things up, which was nice to see.”
The Wranglers appeared to have scored early in the first period when Shay Stephenson’s wrist shot ricocheted off the crossbar and into the net. The red light behind Shantz came on, but referee Nick Krebsbach didn’t acknowledge it.
Krebsbach called upstairs to the press box, and after video review it was still ruled no goal.
After killing off a rare penalty for handling the puck outside the trapezoid behind the net on goalie Joel Gistedt, the Wranglers got one that did count as Ryan Weston put home the rebound of Lemieux’s shot 1:34 into the second period.
Victoria tied it at the 14:41 mark on a wrist shot by Tim Wedderburn from just inside the right faceoff circle that sailed over Gistedt’s right shoulder.
With the score deadlocked, both teams a man down and playing 4-on-4 with less than six minutes remaining, Lemieux and Adam Miller broke out in a 2-on-1. Miller’s shot from the left side was stopped by Shantz, but Lemieux collected the rebound and deposited the puck into a virtually empty net.
Gistedt, who was 0-2 for the Wranglers heading into Friday’s game, survived a Victoria flurry in the final minute.
“He was awesome,” Mougenel said of Gistedt, who had 25 saves in his first win. “I was so proud of Joel. He did an amazing job.”LAS VEGAS — 2
VICTORIA — 1
KEY: Francis Lemieux’s goal with 5:12 remaining broke a 1-1 tie.
NEXT: Wranglers at Victoria, 7:05 p.m. Thursday