Thunder take 2-1 series lead on Huddy's three points, Van Buskirk's 38 saves
STOCKTON, Calif. - Goaltender Parker Van Buskirk made 38 saves for his fifth win in seven postseason games, spelling Ryan Huddy's three point (2g-1a) performance in a 5-1 Stockton Thunder victory over the Las Vegas Wranglers in Game 3 of the Pacific Division Finals of the 2009 Kelly Cup Playoffs, before 4,237 fans at Stockton Arena on Thursday.
The Thunder took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, scoring the first four goals of the contest and producing a 2-for-5 effort on the power-play. James Bates and Judd Blackwater collected a pair of assists while Garet Hunt, Craig Valette and Damian Surma also scored for Stockton. Jason Dest scored the only goal for Las Vegas in the third period.
STOCKTON VS. LAS VEGAS - PACIFIC DIVISION FINALS
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 at Stockton - Saturday, May 2 - 7:30 p.m. (Stockton Arena)
Game 5: Stockton at Las Vegas - Monday, May 4 - 7:30 p.m. (Orleans Arena)
Game 6: Stockton at Las Vegas - Tuesday, May 5 - 7:30 p.m. (Orleans Arena) *
Game 7: Stockton at Las Vegas - Wednesday, May 6 - 7:30 p.m. (Orleans Arena)*
* If necessary
Hunt's second goal of the postseason put the Thunder ahead 1-0 at 9:40 of the opening period, slipping a rebound past Las Vegas goaltender John DeCaro after Huddy was denied on a snap shot from between the hash marks.
Valette spiked the lead to 2-0 with a power-play goal at 3:36 of the second period and his fifth goal of the playoffs. Following DeCaro's save on Surma's shot from the slow, Valette found a loose puck in a scrum at the goal mouth and parked the rebound under DeCaro's pads.
Huddy took a left corner pass by Bates in the slot and buried a wrist shot from the slot with 7:37 left in the second period to increase the Thunder lead to 3-0 for his first goal of the game.
Van Buskirk, who stopped the first 24 shots he saw in the game, wrapped up the second period with a point-blank, blocker save on Dan Riedel's one-timer at the goal mouth in the waning seconds.
Just 31 seconds into the third period, the Thunder boosted the lead to 4-0 in the first shift of the frame when Huddy snuck a rebound past DeCaro's glove side from in tight.
Bates then drew a five-minute head-butting major by J.D. Watt in a third period scrap at the 2:13 mark to produce a five-minute major power-play, helping drain the clock but allowing a goal by the Wranglers in a 4-on-4 skating situation following Craig Valette's cross-checking penalty in the middle of the man-advantage. Dest took a 60-foot slap shot from the left wing that snuck under the crossbar for Las Vegas' only tally of the night at 4:48.
The Thunder warded off any attempts of a dramatic rally by the Wranglers and buried their counterparts with Surma's first goal of the postseason at 16:28 on a power-play, drilling a slap shot past DeCaro's blocker from the right circle for a 5-1 cushion.
DeCaro dropped to 1-4 in the postseason, making 30 saves.
NOTES: Before the game, the Thunder activated defenseman Tyler Kindle off the injured reserve list and placed right wing Igor Gongalsky on the 3-day injured reserve list ... scratches for Game 3 were Andrew Perugini (injury, day-to-day), Mike Lalonde (injured reserve), Matt O'Dette (injured reserve), Gongalsky (injured reserve), Sebastien Bisaillon (healthy) and Adam Huxley (healthy) ... Bates extended his playoff scoring streak to a league-high tying seven straight games ... dating back to game 7 of the first round, the Thunder power-play has converted at an 8-for-23 rate (34.7%) ... Stockton shut down the league-leading Wranglers power-play unit at just an 0-for-1 clip ... Edmonton Oilers assistant coach and former NHL defenseman Charlie Huddy was in attendance at the game.
The Thunder and Wranglers return to play for Game 4 of the series on Saturday, May 2 at Stockton Arena, starting at 7:30 p.m. The game is available on radio at 1420 KSTN and is available for viewing online (audio is free-of-charge) for a $7 charge at http://www.stocktonthunder.com/ (courtesy of B2 Networks).
1. STK - 30 Parker Van Buskirk
2. STK - 26 Ryan Huddy
3. STK - 27 James Bates
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