West Valley City • One game after squandering a one-goal advantage in the third period and failing to close out the Las Vegas Wranglers, the Utah Grizzlies redeemed themselves on Wednesday, doing what they couldn’t do a night before, and held on to beat the Wranglers, 3-2.
“It’s a process … that killer instinct,” said coach Tim Branham. “Learning how to win, learning how to finish teams, that’s a process. You only learn through success … and this is a good step in the right direction.”
Early in the first period, rookie defenseman Pat O’Keefe skated through traffic to find teammate Mathieu Aubin, who knocked in his seventh goal of the year. The assist was O’Keefe’s ninth in eleven games for Utah. Michael Pelech was also awarded an assist on the play to extend his team-leading scoring streak to seven games — a stretch in which the forward has recorded three goals and six assists.
But reminiscent of Tuesday’s game, the Grizz couldn’t hold onto the early lead. With two minutes remaining in the first period, Utah was assessed a penalty for too many men on the ice and Las Vegas capitalized on the unforced error, scoring on a slap shot from the left side to tie the game. Las Vegas scored another power-play goal on its second chance of the night to take a 2-1 lead.
Not to be outdone, at 8:47 in the second period on Utah’s second power-play chance of the night, Aubin rebounded the puck off a missed shot from Phil Mangan and wristed in his second goal of the game. With the two-goal performance, Aubin has scored in seven of his last eight games, with four goals and seven assists during that stretch.
“Goals are starting to go in,” said Aubin. “The line [is] doing simple things, like chipping the puck in … I think it just comes back to putting the puck in the net. … Now we’re getting the bounces and [this is] a really good stretch for us … we want to keep it going.”
Utah started the third period with a one-man advantage after Las Vegas was assessed five-minute major for an illegal check — a hit that sent Utah’ s Jamie MacQueen to the ice for several minutes. But the Grizzlies wasted no time in exacting their revenge, as MacQueen found teammate Teigan Zahn on the left side who then redirected the puck into the net for the game-winning goal.
Grizzlies 3,Wranglers 2
O A game after Utah and Las Vegas combine to go 0 for 8 on the power play, each team scores two power-play goals on nine total chances.