Thunder season, deepest playoff run ends in seventh game of second round
LAS VEGAS - Dan Spang tallied three assists and goaltender Glenn Fisher made 41 saves to help the Las Vegas Wranglers defeat the Stockton Thunder, 5-1 in Game 7 of the Pacific Division Final, eliminating the Thunder from the 2009 Kelly Cup Playoffs before 3,282 at Orleans Arena on Wednesday.
The Thunder season ended with the deepest run into the playoffs for the club's four-year history, while Las Vegas advanced to the third round for the second straight year by winning the seven-game series, 4-3 and will face the Alaska Aces in the National Conference Final round.
Cory Urquhart scored a Thunder playoff record 10th goal in the third period, while the Wranglers received goal-scoring help from Mick Lawrence, Tyler Mosienko, Scott McCulloch, Chris Neiszner and Sean Owens. Las Vegas killed all nine penalty kill situations and the Thunder outshot the Wranglers, 42-29 while pouring 21 shots on net in the third period.
#4 STOCKTON VS. #2 LAS VEGAS - PACIFIC DIVISION FINALS (Las Vegas wins, 4-3)
Game 1: Las Vegas 3 at Stockton 4
Game 2: Stockton 2 at Las Vegas 4
Game 3: Las Vegas 1 at Stockton 5
Game 4: Las Vegas 3 at Stockton 2 (OT)
Game 5: Stockton 2 at Las Vegas 4
Game 6: Stockton 3 at Las Vegas 1
Game 7: Stockton 1 at Las Vegas 5
The Wranglers put the Thunder in a 2-0 hole to begin the game on two power-play goals in the opening period. Lawrence's snap shot from the left circle snuck through traffic with 4:04 gone to put Las Vegas ahead 1-0.
Tyler Mosienko found the back of the net for Las Vegas' second straight man-advantage goal with 8:34 left in the period, finishing Shawn Limpright's backdoor pass at the left circle to hike the lead to 2-0.
The Thunder responded with a furious puck possession attack but were turned aside on all 16 shots in the second period, which included the stretch of a 5-on-3 power-play for 36 seconds. McCulloch's fourth goal of playoffs lifted the Wranglers cushion to 3-0 when he chased a turnover at center and buried a snap shot from the left circle with 2:52 remaining in the period.
Neiszner tapped a fluttering puck into an open net at 5:48 of the third period to hike the Wrangler advantage to 4-0, forcing a Thunder rally that began just 3:03 later. Urquhart cut the deficit to 4-1 when he took Damian Surma's chip off the right wing boards, raced on net and beat Fisher with a backhander for his 10th goal of the playoffs.
The Thunder had an opportunity to cut into the deficit further with another 5-on-3 power-play that lasted for 1:56 after Jason Dest cleared the puck over the defensive zone glass for a delay-of-game penalty. Yet, the Thunder were nullified on numerous scoring chances, including James Bates' point-blank chance from below the left circle that was snared under Fisher's left arm.
Owens finished the scoring with an empty-net goal with 1:51 to play, heaving a clearing attempt to the back of the net from 140 feet after the Thunder pulled goaltender Parker Van Buskirk on a power-play for a 6-on-4 skating situation.
Van Buskirk ended his postseason run at a 6-5 record, making 24 saves.
NOTES: The Thunder scratched Andrew Perugini (injury, day-to-day), Adam Huxley (healthy), Judd Blackwater (injured reserve), Matt O'Dette (injured reserve), Tyler Kindle (injured reserve) and Sebastien Bisaillon (healthy) ... Urquhart's 10 goals and 16 points (10g-6a) now rank as Thunder all-time and single-year postseason records, breaking Jacob Micflikier's mark of 13 points (4g-9a) and Stephane Goulet's five goals in 2007-08 ... Las Vegas converted at a 2-for-4 rate on the power-play, improving its record to 3-0 in Game 7 situations ... the Thunder record moved to 1-1, lifetime, in Game 7 scenarios.
1. LV - 35 Glenn Fisher
2. LV - 14 Tyler Mosienko
3. LV - 28 Scott McCulloch
LINK TO BOXSCORE