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July 27, 2014

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HOCKEY:

Wranglers stumble in shootout

The Las Vegas Wranglers almost moved above .500 for the first time all season. They even nearly strung together their first three-game win streak of the year.

But close did not cut it as the Wranglers collapsed in a shootout Saturday night to allow the Utah Grizzlies to escape the Orleans Arena with a 3-2 victory.

The Grizzlies scored on each of their three shootout attempts while Jason Dest, Chris St. Croix and Shawn Limpright each missed their breakaway opportunities. Mick Lawrence was the only Las Vegas player to score in the shootout.

Las Vegas (14-14-3) is now 0-3 in shootouts.

"I think we had enough chances to win in certain situations, but things just never went in," said Wranglers coach and general manager Glen Gulutzan.

Although the Wranglers did not earn two points Saturday, they did show some resiliency by overcoming an early two-goal deficit.

Utah's Evan Kotsopoulos and Tim Verbeek each scored within the first four minutes of the game to put the Grizzlies on top 2-0.

The Wranglers answered back quickly, however, as Sean Owens buried his second goal of the season less than 30 seconds later to cut Utah's lead to 2-1.

Chris Neiszner would add his team-high 11th goal of the season at 8:42 in the first period thanks to a power play set up by Shawn Limpright and Adam Miller.

The game remained tied, though, until Utah pulled away in the shootout.

"I thought (Utah) played with more energy in the second and third than we did and we had our chances," Gulutzan said. "We just have to start converting. That's the bottom line. We have to bear down on the chances we do get and that's what we are not doing right now. And it cost us."

Wranglers' goalie Kevin Lalande stopped 27 shots in regulation while his counterpart, Robert Gherson, made 25 saves.

"I thought their goalie played solid," Gulutzan said. "I don't consider it an outstanding game, but he played well and made some nice saves and gave them a chance to win. He did his job. I think (Lalande) did his job tonight for us too tonight. You can't blame either goalie tonight."

Stars of the game: 1. Adam Miller (2 assists); 2. Shawn Limpright (2A); 3. Sean Owens (1 goal)

It's Miller time: Wranglers forward Adam Miller extended his consecutive game point streak to seven Saturday with two assists. Miller now has four goals and nine assists in his last seven games.

Next up: The Wranglers embark on a five-game road trip starting in Salt Lake City against the Grizzlies at the E-Center at 6:05 p.m. Friday.

Final word: "First day you can battle through it, second day maybe it gets you the worst," Gulutzan said about his team's flu epidemic. "I don't know, but I just thought we needed to get better tonight if we were going to get two points and that didn't happen."

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

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