In tonight's ECHL Western Conference finals opener in Nevada, the Alaska Aces outshot the Las Vegas Wranglers 17-6 in the first period, so, good start to their 2-1 win.
They got a power-play goal (Ryan Cruthers) for the fourth straight game, making that 0 of 27 futility to bridge the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs a distant memory.
They got the usual drill from Gerald Coleman, 25 saves on 26 shots.
They killed both Wranglers power plays.
They never trailed.
They got both goals, including the game-winning deflection of a Tyson Marsh shot, from Cruthers, who leads them with four goals in six playoff games and was acquired from Reading specificially for his playoff scoring pedigree.
They held Las Vegas' lethal first line in check.
They scored the only goal of the third period, when the game hung in the balance.
They got a pretty fortunate no-call -- looked to us like Wranglers sniper Eric Lampe got hauled down there at the end, but no raised arm from referee Frederic Leblanc.
And they got a fourth straight win -- make that fourth straight ROAD win -- to put the Wranglers in a 1-0 hole entering Saturday's Game 2 at Orleans Arena. (SCRATCH THAT -- Game 2 is Friday, as "907Moose'' helpfully points out. Man, doesn't say much for The Blog's mental agility that everytime he works on a scheduled day off, like last Monday, he gets the days of the week screwed up in his tiny brain).
With the quirky 2-4-1 format prompted by rink-availability problems for both clubs, the Aces have seized home-ice advantage, no matter how you calculate or argue that benefit.
All of which would seem to make Saturday's game for the Wranglers about as close as a club gets to a must-win situation.
Anyhow, no doubt the Cowbell Crew was thrilled with tonight's performance and outcome. And should be.