So much for home-ice advantage.
The Utah Grizzlies suffered their second 4-2 loss in as many nights at Maverik Center on Saturday, as the Victoria Salmon Kings launched a back-breaking three-goal rally in the second period. Now in an 0-2 series hole, Utah will have to do damage on the road to advance to the ECHL Western Conference Finals.
“We’re giving away a lot of these goals and not making them earn much,” coach Kevin Colley. “I wouldn’t say our back is against a wall, but we did put ourselves in this situation. We have to tighten up, and we have to communicate.”
It was Victoria winger Chad Painchaud who gave the Grizzlies fits after they jumped out to an early 1-0 lead off a goal by Marcus Carroll.
Painchaud put the Salmon Kings on the board when he intercepted a rebound off a shot from Rob Hennigar and sent it home. He scored again eight minutes later, diving into the crease to give Victoria the 2-1 lead. The point stood despite furious protests from goalkeeper J.P. Lamoureux that the puck never passed the goal line.
“It was hard to tell from the video, but J.P.’s an honest guy,” Colley said about the call, which prompted the fans to start a chorus of boos. “If he says it didn’t go in, I believe him.”
The Grizzlies brought the game back to a deadlock on a power-play shot by Nick Tuzzolino. But Kiel McLeod took back whatever momentum Utah had claimed by scoring 33 seconds later, corralling his own rebound and catching Lamoureux out of position.
The Salmon Kings again beat the Grizzlies to the net in the third. Tommy Maxwell was able to score as Grizzlies defender Giffen Nyren accidentally blocked Lamoureux’s line of sight on the play. Victoria took a 4-2 lead that stuck for the remaining minutes.
Tuzzolino’s goal now makes six straight games in which Utah has scored on a power play. But the Salmon Kings again limited the special-teams opportunities, only spending six minutes in the penalty box. The Grizzlies were called for only one two-minute penalty.
Utah won two games on the road against Stockton in the first round, and it’ll have to duplicate that effort to even get to a Game 6 at home next week.
“Whether we’re at home or on the road, we have to find ways to win,” Carroll said. “It’s playoff hockey, and no one wants to take penalties. We have to look for other ways to get momentum.”
R Victoria burns Utah for three goals in the second period, two by Chad Painchaud.
• Utah scores on a power play for the sixth straight game, this one by Nick Tuzzolino.
• The Grizzlies face a steep climb if they want to reach the Western Conference finals, with three straight road games.
P Friday • Victoria 4, Utah 2
Saturday • Victoria 4, Utah 2
Victoria leads series 2-0
Wednesday • Utah at Victoria, 8:05 p.m.
Friday • Utah at Victoria, 8:05 p.m.
Saturday* • Utah at Victoria, 8:05 p.m.
Monday, April 25* • Victoria at Utah, 7:05 p.m.
Wednesday, April 27* • Victoria at Utah, 7:05 p.m.