Friday, February 5, 2010

Wranglers lose to Idaho, 3-2, in shootout on home ice

By Anthony Fenech

Friday, Feb. 5, 2010 | 11:45 p.m.

Leave it to Tyler Spurgeon to finish the Wranglers.

The Idaho Steelheads forward's second goal of Friday's game — and his seventh in his past three contests against the Las Vegas Wranglers — was the only score of the shootout, giving Idaho a 3-2 victory at the Orleans Arena.

"It seems to be going well for me against them," Spurgeon said. "Our line has worked hard, guys have been finding me and it's worked well."

Spurgeon put the game-winner past the left shoulder of Wranglers goalie Michael Ouzas, giving him more goals against the Wranglers than he has against the rest of the league (6).

"I was just trying to get a move in there as I crossed the net," he said of the goal. "I didn't get the puck exactly where I wanted to, but a goal's a goal."

The 23-year-old opened the scoring just more than a minute into the game, pushing a feed from Matt Derlago past Ouzas to give Idaho an early first-period lead courtesy of the power play.

"We need to stay out of the (penalty) box," Wranglers head coach Ryan Mougenel said. "He hasn't scored a 5-on-5 goal against us."

After a scoreless second period, Las Vegas battled back in the third period to tie the game on the 50th goal of forward Ned Lukacevic's career.

Lukacevic said he was unaware of the milestone until after the play.

"It's nice, but I didn't know until the ref told me," Lukacevic said. "When he passed me the puck, I was like, 'What? What is this puck for?'"

The Steelheads responded three minutes later with Derlago's 18th goal of the season at the 15:30 mark of the third period, assisted by Steelheads Marty Flichel and Kevin DeVergilio.

Nearing the midway point of the final frame and down a goal, Lukacevic came calling again, deflecting and lifting an Alex Bourret shot from the left point into the back of the net for the tie.

"We didn't have a good start in the first period, but we worked hard like last night to get a point," Bourret said.

After a scoreless overtime, Spurgeon's goal gave the Steelheads the victory, while none of the Wranglers shooters could figure out Idaho goaltender Rejean Beauchemin, who improved to 4-0 in his last four starts.

The Wranglers were outshot for the eighth consecutive game, tying their season-low total of 15 shots set Jan. 6 in Ontario.

It also was the first time since Jan. 6 that the Wranglers have scored multiple power-play goals, going 2-for-8 with the man-advantage Friday night.

"Quality shots are more important to me," Mougenel said. "Did we have quality shots? Not really. We weren't great, but at the end of the day, shots don't have any bearing on me as a coach, and it doesn't bother me."

The nine first-period shots between the two teams — six for Idaho and three for Las Vegas — was also a season low.

"It was a heck of an effort," Mougenel said. "We stuck with it, scored two big goals in the third, and I thought we did a good job of rectifying some things."

Three stars: 1. Idaho's Matt Derlago (goal, assist); 2. Ned Lukacevic (two goals); 3. Andrew Orpik (two assists).

Ned on fire: Lukacevic has nine points in five games against Idaho this season, tallying three goals and six assists.

Splurgin' Spurgeon: The Idaho center extended his points-streak to five games, posting a total of nine goals and three assists during that span. He's recorded 15 points in his past 10 games (nine goals, six assists).

Up next: Idaho on Saturday night for the rubber match of the three-game series.

Final word: "Every point is good for us right now," Bourret said.

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