After some early season goal-scoring struggles, the Utah Grizzlies seem to have righted their offensive ship. Prior to Tuesday’s contest, Utah had scored a combined 19 goals in its last five games and at least three goals in each game during that stretch. But the Grizzlies’ two-goal performance on Tuesday night wasn’t enough to overcome the Las Vegas Wranglers as they fell, 3-2, in a shootout loss.
Despite the loss, it didn’t take long for the Grizzlies to find their offensive rhythm. Only 1:30 into the first period, West Valley City native D.J. Jelitto picked up where he left off during Utah’s three-game road trip to Orlando, as he skated through multiple defenders inside the Grizzlies’ offensive zone and dumped the puck to Mathieu Aubin, who fired a wrist-shot from the left side for the game’s first goal. Jelitto has now recorded two goals and three assists in Utah’s last four games.
After a Las Vegas goal, Utah regained the lead at 12:39 in the second period as Martin Lee passed the puck ahead of the defense to Michael Pelech, who found himself all alone in the slot.
Pelech skated to the goal and slipped the puck past the W ranglers’ goalie for his second point of the night. Pelech’s multiple-point night extends the forward’s scoring streak to six games and he has now recorded three goals and five assists during that stretch.
“That line is our best line,” said coach Tim Branham of Jelitto and Pelech. “They have been really good the last few games. They control the puck down low, they get scoring chances. … The whole season we’ve been getting production from one line and it’s usually always a different line. … We’ve got to try to get the other guys going.”
Even after allowing a third-period goal, the Grizzlies appeared to be in control as Mathieu Aubin found the back of the net for the first goal of the shootout, but the Wranglers’ goalie saved four of the next five shots to preserve the win for Las Vegas — its first in 11 games.
“[We’ve] got to have that killer instinct,” said Branham. “We had a team down and we probably should have put them away. Yeah, we had a great effort, we played really good hockey, but … we’ve got to tighten up defensively and make sure that we have that full effort for 60 minutes and not have any letups.”
Wranglers 3,Grizzlies 2 (SO)
O One game after recording a season-high 49 shots against Orlando, Utah outshoots Las Vegas, 45-19.
• Utah goalie Aaron Dell allows a goal on the Wranglers’ first shot, but saves 16 of 18 shots in 65 minutes of action.