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December 19, 2014

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Wranglers shut out first-place Fresno

Someone forgot to tell the Las Vegas Wranglers to fear the Pacific Division-leading Fresno Falcons on Monday night.

Although Fresno (12-5-2) boasts one of the league's toughest defenses, the Wranglers (8-7-2) scorched the Falcons 4-0 at the Orleans Arena to move one game over .500 for the first time all season.

The Wranglers kicked off their scoring binge early as Tyler Mosienko and Justin Taylor each scored power play goals late in the first period to send Las Vegas into the first intermission with a 2-0 lead.

Less than two minutes into the second period, Mike Hamilton buried a one-timer from J.D. Watt to extend the Wranglers' lead 3-0.

Watt then put the game out of reach with a nifty double move to flip a backhand shot past Fresno goalie Michael Ouzas for a 4-0 lead with 18:22 remaining in the contest.

Wranglers goalie Kevin Lalande made his second start and stopped all 30 shots he faced and helped kill off nine penalties.

"I haven't been here very long, but I think anyone in that locker room can tell you that that was one of the best games of the year," Lalande said. "We kept things simple. Guys were blocking shots, we had a great penalty kill and we scored on the power play. We did all the little things right and we need to do it on a consistent basis now."

But not everyone was thrilled with the performance, especially after the Wranglers recorded 10 shots on goal in the final two periods after registering 13 in the first period alone.

"I'm not going to go in there and kiss their butts because they won a hockey game 4-0," said Wranglers coach and general manager Glen Gulutzan. "They have to show that they can do it night after night. That's the difference between being an average team and a great team is the ability to play strong games back to back and we haven't done that yet."

After dropping the Phoenix Roadrunners 6-3 on Saturday, Monday's victory was only the second time all season the Wrangers have won back-to-back games. They have yet to produce a win streak greater than two games.

Stars of the game: 1. Kevin Lalande (30 saves), 2. Tyler Mosienko (1 goal, 1 assist), 3. Justin Tayor (1 G, 1 A)

Be careful what you ask for: Fresno defenseman Brennan Turner did his best Sean Avery impression as he tried to agitate as many Wranglers as possible early in Monday's contest.

Late in the first period Turner hit Wranglers forward J.D. Watt with a high stick and then tried to pick a fight with him. Watt declined the invitation and happily watched as Turner headed to the penalty box. Las Vegas scored on the ensuing power play to take a 1-0 lead.

"I've always been a guy who fights when I want to, not when another guy wants to," Watt said. "I find it one of the most annoying things when I want to fight and the other guy doesn't want to, so that's what I do sometimes. He was all over me at the start and I'm sure the coach told him to do that to try draw a penalty."

Once out of the box, Turner continued to try to pick fights with anyone he came in contact with.

Just as he wished, with 12:51 remaining in the second period, Turner approached the Wranglers' bench and tried to jump defenseman Brandon Straub. While still on the bench, Straub starting launching haymakers at Turner.

The puddle of blood on the ice and the wads of gauze shoved up Turner's nose to stop the bleeding can tell the rest of the story.

"It was nice to see 'Strauber' do that to him," Watt said. "He was standing on the bench, so he had more power and he just teed off… I told (Turner) after the fight when he was bleeding in front of our bench 'Hey, it looks like you bit off more than you can chew.'"

Breaking records: Left winger and captain Shawn Limpright continues to make history with the Wranglers as he became the first player in franchise history to notch 100 career assists when he recorded No. 100 in Phoenix on Saturday night. He added one more assist Monday night to bring his career total to 101. He is also the Wranglers' all-time leader in points, with 142.

Monday's contest was also Limpright's 200th game with Las Vegas, placing him second behind former player and current assistant coach Mike McBain (256).

Penalty party: The Falcons lead the ECHL in penalty minutes per game (27.61) and the Wranglers are fourth with 25 penalty minutes per game, so it was no surprise that the referees had plenty of work to do Monday night.

Including Straub's game misconduct, the Wranglers racked up 43 penalty minutes on 13 infractions while Fresno committed eight penalties for 25 minutes in the box.

At least nobody shot themselves at Applebee's likes a certain football player in New York.

Roster moves: Defenseman Sean Owens returned to the starting lineup Monday night as the Wranglers activated him off the injured reserve list. Owens had two shots on goal Monday and he committed two penalties. The Wranglers also placed forward Matt Beaudoin on the seven-day injured reserve list, retroactive from Sunday.

Attendance: 3,248

Up next: The Wranglers stay in Las Vegas for another night as the face Fresno again Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m at the Orleans Arena, which is also the 6th annual Teddy Bear Toss. Fans who bring new stuffed animals to donate to the Sunrise Acres Elementary School will received entries into a drawing for prizes including golf outings, gift certificates and autographed Wranglers merchandise.

Final word: "It's all fine and great and we can play the music pretty loud, but they need to prove to me that you can play games back-to-back," Gulutzan said. "Prove to me that you are a pro and you have focus and you can come back and duplicate games. That's what this team hasn't proved to me yet. That is my challenge to them."

Steve Silver can be reached at 948-7822 or [email protected].

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