Friday, January 22, 2010

Wranglers break losing streak with win against Idaho

By Anthony Fenech

Friday, Jan. 22, 2010 | 11:14 p.m.

The Las Vegas Wranglers were ready to break their four-game losing streak Friday, and they didn't waste any time.

In their first period of action since a five-day all-star break, the Wranglers scored four goals, jumping out to an early lead over the Idaho Steelheads on the road.

The early lead didn't hold, but the Wranglers kept battling and held on for a 6-5 win, the team's first in five games.

"Simplicity works best," head coach Ryan Mougenel said. "We got four quick goals and played a simple, detailed game from there."

Alex Bourret, in his third game with the team, scored a hat trick as he joined Adam Miller and Ned Lukacevic on the team's top scoring line.

"I felt real good out there today," Bourret said. "We played really good tonight, and our line worked very hard."

Bourret followed Shay Stephenson's game-opening goal with back-to-back first-period tallies and completed the hat trick with 7:23 in the third period.

"He's coming in here to fill a serious role for us," Mougenel said. "He's very talented and has great instincts on the ice."

The 23-year-old right-winger came to Las Vegas from Brno Kometa in the Czech Republic. He was the Atlanta Thrashers' first-round pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, selected with the 16th pick that summer.

Bourret added two assists to his hat trick, helping on Miller's 11th goal of the season in the first period and on Lukacevic's 16th of the season in the third period.

"They're two of the best players on our team," Bourret said. "We worked well together, and it was good to battle to a win on the road."

After the four-goal flurry in the first period, Las Vegas let Idaho back into the game by allowing three unanswered goals, including two consecutive on the power play in the second period.

"We went into a lull in the second period," Mougenel said. "But we found our legs in the third and got the two points."

Bourret's third goal of the game gave the Wranglers a 6-3 lead with just over seven minutes to play, but the Steelheads responded less than a minute later on Matt McKnight's second goal of the game.

The Steelheads would score just 18 seconds later to pull within a goal, but Las Vegas goaltender Michael Ouzas blanked the home team from there, turning in his most workmanlike performance of the season.

The 48 Idaho shots were the most Ouzas faced all season. "He made big saves when we needed him to make those saves," Mougenel said.

The victory is Las Vegas' first on the road since Jan. 6 and came despite posting their second-lowest shots total of the season.

"We played good on both sides of the puck tonight," Mougenel said. "We were past due turning in a performance like this."

Three stars: 1. Idaho's Matt McKnight (two goals); 2. Alex Bourret (three goals, two assists); 3. Idaho's Mark McCutcheon (four assists).

Bernhardt's back: Wranglers center Justin Bernhardt was active for his first game since being injured Jan. 12.

What was originally thought to be a serious knee injury was "nothing significant," Mougenel said.

Bernhardt assisted on Stephenson's first-period goal.

Orpik's out: Forward Andrew Orpik was placed on the seven-day injured reserve Friday.

Final word: "He scored big goals when we needed him to score them," Mougenel said of Bourret.

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