Wranglers post quick rally, come up short in shootout

After allowing two goals in the first 3:36, Wranglers goaltender Kevin Lalande held Utah scoreless for the remainder of regulation and overtime, stopping 27 of 29 shots.

But Lalande faltered in the shootout, giving up goals to the Grizzlies’ first three shooters — Vladimir Nikiforov, Rob Hennigar and Ryan Kinasewich — as Utah outlasted Las Vegas 3-2 on Saturday night at the Orleans Arena.

Needing to score two unanswered goals to tie the Grizzlies, Wranglers left wing Shawn Limpright was stoned by Utah goalie Mike Mole, who stopped three of four shots in the shootout after making 25 saves in regulation and overtime.

Jason Dest and Chris St. Croix came up empty for the Wranglers in the first two rounds of the shootout. Rookie left wing Mick Lawrence scored in the third round to pull Las Vegas to 2-1, but Kinasewich then put one between Lalande’s legs to make it 3-1.

Las Vegas (14-14-3) went 4-3-1 on its eight-game homestand and still hasn’t won three straight games this season.

Already wracked with the flu, the Wranglers fell behind 2-0 less than four minutes into the game. But they quickly overcame the slow start, fighting back to tie the score before the first period was halfway through.

Just 29 seconds after the Grizzlies (12-13-5) went up 2-0, Sean Owens scored on a shot from the right circle to cut Las Vegas’ deficit to 2-1 at the 4:05 mark.

The Wranglers then tied the score at the 8:42 mark when Chris Neiszner netted a power-play goal in front of the net.

Adam Miller, who had two assists, dropped a pass down to Shawn Limpright, who was set up on the goal line. Limpright, who had two assists, then zipped a cross-crease pass to Neiszner, who buried the puck into the back of the net.

Grizzlies left wing Evan Kotsopoulos scored on the first shot of the game for either team, beating Lalande in front of the net at the 1:19 mark to give Utah a 1-0 edge.

Tim Verbeek made the score 2-0 a couple of minutes later when he punched in a power-play goal from point-blank range.

The Grizzlies outshot the Wranglers 29-27 through regulation and overtime, and Mole came up with key saves on third-period breakaway bids by Miller and Lawrence.

Both teams had short power plays in overtime but came up empty. Utah finished 1-for-7 on the power play, and Las Vegas went 1-for-4.

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