Alaska was off for 11 days after its first-round sweep of Idaho, and the Aces looked like they still were on vacation Friday night at the Orleans Arena.
The top-seeded Wranglers, who wrapped up their first-round series against Stockton on Tuesday, dominated the action, outshooting Alaska 46-to-20 en route to an 8-0 rout in Game 1 of the National Conference semifinal series.
“They didn’t play as well as they could, and their (11) days off probably hurt them,” Las Vegas coach Glen Gulutzan said. “We got the right dose of rest from a very tough series that enabled us to keep our intensity.
“We were sharp tonight, but we’re not going to dwell on this long — 8-0 or 1-0, it doesn’t make a difference. I’ve played these guys enough to know we’ll be dealing with a different animal (tonight).”
Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is set for 7:05 p.m. at the Orleans Arena.
Peter Ferraro and Adam Miller each had two goals and three assists to set a franchise playoff record for points (five) in a game, and Marco Peluso dished out four assists to set a franchise playoff record for assists in a game.
The Wranglers set a season high in goals, posted their largest margin of victory ever in a playoff game and also dealt the Aces their most lopsided loss of the season.
Las Vegas also equaled Idaho’s entire output in its series against Alaska.
“It gives every guy a little bit of confidence and shows what kind of team we really have,” said Peluso, one of only two Wranglers, along with Shawn Limpright, who played against Alaska in a second-round loss in the 2006 playoffs. “We’ve been waiting for this for a while. We have a lot of skill and good chemistry and it’s good to be clicking at the right time. It sets the tone for the whole series.”
Holding a precarious 1-0 lead after a first period in which it outshot Alaska 16-8 and enjoyed six power plays, Las Vegas exploded for five goals in the second period to take a commanding 6-0 lead.
Miller, a rookie from Ferris State who joined the Wranglers late in the season, started the scoring parade, beating Aces goalie Marek Schwarz on a wrist shot from the slot at the 2:43 mark to give Las Vegas a 2-0 lead.
Ferraro made it 3-0 at the 9:09 mark when he took a cross-ice pass from Miller in the bottom of the left circle and lifted a one-timer into the top of the net.
The Wranglers then netted two goals within 20 seconds to make it 5-0.
Limpright buried a rebound in front of the net at the 11:08 mark and Ferraro ripped a shot from the slot into the top of the net at 11:28.
Tyler Mosienko made it 6-0 with a power-play goal with 1:03 left in the frame, and Miller and Curtis Fraser added third-period goals to complete the barrage.
“It’s real exciting getting Game 1 and really sending a message to their team that we’re here to play,” Miller said.
Las Vegas killed all six Alaska power plays and has allowed only one power-play goal in 31 attempts in the playoffs.
The Wranglers went 3-for-12 with the man advantage as the Aces were penalized 25 times for 88 minutes.
Kevin Lalande stopped all 20 shots for his fourth shutout of the season, while Schwarz stopped 38 of 46 shots and suffered his first playoff loss.
Las Vegas also won Game 1 of its second-round series against Alaska in 2006, blanking the Aces 5-0 on the road before dropping four of the next five games.
“We’re not going to quit coming,” Gulutzan said. “We’re going to play the same way the whole series.”LAS VEGAS — 8
ALASKA — 0
KEY: Peter Ferraro scored two of the Wranglers’ five second-period goals.
NEXT: Game 2, Aces vs. Wranglers, 7:05 p.m. today, Orleans Arena