Utah Grizzlies: A Costly Lack of Discipline

It’s playoff time at the Mav, and the Grizzlies returned home with a series split to find reinforcements waiting. Taylor Richart made his return to the lineup for the first time since February 17th. With his return, Tim Branham shuffled his defense, Rob Mann remained in the lineup with Tim Daly, Garret Haar, Phil Pietroniro, and Gabriel Verpaelst, while Marc-André Lévesque and Martin Nemcik sat. Cam Reid also did not dress for Utah, while Kevin Boyle once again made the start.

The Grizzlies got an early power play, as Josh Brittain took a boarding call against Mathieu Aubin just moments into the first period, but Allen largely kept the Grizzlies chasing the puck down the ice. Utah got a second crack at the man advantage just moments later as Mike Gunn went off for elbowing at 2:34, but once again, the Grizzlies’ power play was unable to make a difference.

Verpalest took a holding penalty 7:11 into the first, and the Allen power play looked dangerous, but Utah killed it off. The Americans spent a great deal of time in the Grizzlies’ end, but with 6:50 to go, shots were 4-3 for Utah.

Verpaelst yet took another penalty, tripping this time, with 3:45 to go in the first, and the Grizzlies headed back to the penalty kill. Unfortunately, the penalty would prove costly, as the Americans scored with 34 seconds left on the man advantage.

Utah got a big chance on the power play to end the period as Jon Puskar drew a holding call with less than a minute to go in the first, but they were unable to make anything happen before the frame drew to a close.

Utah was outshot 10-6, and trailed 1-0 after 20, but would start the second with 1:15 on the power play.

Utah was only able to get one shot on the power play to open the second, and C.J. Eick took a holding call at 3:04. Fortunately for Utah, Chad Costello took a high-sticking call about thirty seconds into the penalty kill, and the teams played 4-on-4 for 1:32.

With 58 seconds left in the 4-on-4 situation, Austen Brassard struck decisively, tying it up with 15:53 to go. Haar and Erik Bradford drew the assists on Brassard’s second of the playoffs.

Daly took a high-sticking penalty at 7:05, but the Grizzlies pressed well, and had a number of up ice rushes, Eick and Erik Higby both getting especially nice chances.

Brittain hauled Haar down in the defensive zone with 9:14 to go, and the Grizzlies returned to the power play. However, Utah had difficulties maintaining the zone, and Allen returned to full strength with no change in score.

Puskar was repeatedly cross-checked in the offensive zone before the refs finally called it with 4:34 to play, and Travis Howe and Mathieu Aubin were less than amused with the delay in the call.

Brassard got a nice shot on net, and then a crowd gathered as Colin Martin and Dyson Stevenson tangled, both getting two for roughing with 3:42 to go in the period.

The Grizzlies got a 37 second 5-on-3 with 3:11 to go, as Travis Brown put Daly into the boards. Daly appeared to be just fine, and gave Utah the 2-1 lead at 17:31 with assists from from Aubin and Higby.

Richart took a delay of game penalty with 1:55 to go, but at the end of the second, Utah led 2-1.

Unfortunately, Allen made it 2-2 just 2:53 into the frame as Zach Hall beat Boyle. To make matters worse, Daly got a questionable five and a game for spearing at 7:05, and the Grizzlies had to finish the game (and a five minute penalty) without their best defenseman, and primary penalty killer.

The Grizzlies were unable to clear the zone, and Allen made it 3-2 part way through the five minute major. Utah killed off the remainder of the penalty, even getting a chance or two of their own, and with 7:27 to go, they returned to full strength.

Richart laid a couple of big hits, and Higby and Ralph Cuddemi had some nice attempts as the Grizzlies tried to tie up the game, but to no avail.

Pietroniro had a rough go of it through the end of the game, taking abuse from Tyler Barnes and Brittain along the boards with about three minutes left as they battled for the puck. Pietroniro laid a huge hit on Brittain shortly thereafter before being tomahawked by Bryan Moore in retaliation. Moore received a match penalty for cross-checking, and Utah went on to a ten minute power play with 1:20 left, down Daly and Pietroniro. (Moore would later be fined and suspended for four games as a result.)

Utah pulled Boyle with 1:20 left, to go 6-on-4, but they were unable to even up the score, and despite a terrific defensive effort from Richart, Allen eventually scored into the empty net.

Erik Higby was named third star of the game with an assist, three shots, and as the generator of a number of the most dangerous plays in the game. Boyle also continued to have a very strong series, making 28/31 saves, while two of the three goals he allowed were on Allen power plays.

Penalties, and special teams were a big theme after the game. When asked about the Grizzlies’ third period struggles against Allen, Brassard answered:

“I think a big thing is penalties, I mentioned that earlier. They’re so skilled we can’t give them opportunities on the power play, because they will finish. It’s just about keeping on them and sticking with our game plan, just getting it in their zone, keeping on the offense and burning some time down there.”

Coach Branham was emphatic on the subject. “Undisciplined play has cost us game one and game three. We completely shot ourselves in the foot with undisciplined play, and we’ve been talking about it, how that’s going to be the key to this series. If you want to take a punch, if you want to continue to do retaliatory penalties, it’s going to cost us. Champions suck it up. Champions bite the bullet and do what it takes to win. We took way too many penalties tonight. I thought the referee got duped a little in the five minute major. That wasn’t a five minute spearing penalty, that’s for sure, but you put yourself in that position, for them to call it. You’ve gotta be disciplined, and tonight too many penalties cost us.

“No adjustments need to be made,” he said later, regarding the system the Grizzlies played. “Guys just need to have more discipline. Need to stop taking penalties, dumb penalties. I wouldn’t say stop taking penalties if they were good ones. if it’s to keep a goal going in your net, or whatever. But we took five or six penalties from our d-core tonight, and all but one were really dumb. So we gotta to make sure that we have a lot more discipline in the next game.”

When asked about the team’s power play performance, he added, “I thought we generated some good looks. Early on we didn’t, so then we made a couple of adjustments and were able to get some good looks. We missed a lot of plays coming up the ice on the break out, pucks rolling of our stick and what not. Our execution level was not quite there. Obviously we didn’t score more than one, so I’m not as happy as I could be, but at the end of the day I thought we were doing the right things, we just didn’t execute well enough.”

Execution and discipline might have been lacking, but Richart’s return to the lineup, and the continued performance of the Grizzlies’ third line were both bright spots.

 

“It’s really nice to have Richie back. He plays with heart, he plays with character, he skates really well, and he competes. That’s what I want out of all of our d-men. Where you get in trouble as a d-man, where you stop competing, you stop moving. We saw that on three of their goals here tonight. That third line you’re talking about with Puskar, Eick and Brassard, right now they’re our heart and soul. They’re leading by example, and they’re having success because they’re playing the system, they’re playing the game plan that we’re trying to implement. So everyone else has to follow suit.”

“We’re just keeping it simple” Brassard said of his line’s performance. “We have a fast line, so we’re just getting after them, trying to keep it simple, and stick to our strengths.” Their strengths have seen them pick up ten points in three games.

The Grizzlies are down 2-1 in the series now, but they remain undeterred. After all, a bit of adversity is nothing new.

“We’re pretty confident. We’ve had the lead in all the games, so it’s just about not getting too down. We’re pretty confident with how we can do against this team, so turn the page, and come ready to go next game.” Brassard’s statement has an entire season of proof to back him up.

Utah looks to once again tie up the series tonight (Friday) in what is bound to be an eventful game.

 

Image courtesy of Tim Broussard/Jess Fleming.

 

Utah Grizzlies: All Tied Up

After having lost game one in a disappointing fashion, the Grizzlies looked to even up the series in game two against Allen. Kevin Boyle once again got the start, Colin Martin returned to the lineup, and Rob Mann drew in for Martin Nemcik. The Grizzlies were also without Zac Larraza who was called up to play for San Diego.

The early minutes of the first period were a fairly back and forth affair, with only three shots total through the first five minutes. It became evident quite early on that the C.J. Eick-Jon Puskar-Austen Brassard line had come to play, getting several of the Grizzlies’ best chances.

Marc-André Lévesque got shoved into Boyle with 13:19 to go, and took exception to it, starting a scrum that sent him to the box together with Greger Hanson.

Brassard and Eick had a terrific shift on the four-on-four, Brassard out-muscling the Allen defense, and Eick just narrowly missing a chance on the net. Boyle made a nice save on the other end, and both teams returned to full strength with no change in score. Lévesque got a one-on-one chance right out of the box, but Riley Gill made the save.

Spencer Asuchak took a roughing minor with 11:04 to play, but though the Grizzlies retained possession for almost the entire two minutes, and got a few shots, nothing substantial came of it.

Brassard and Eick made yet another a lovely play with 4:56 left in the first, but Gill again shut the door, shots 8-6 in Utah’s favor, while the refs largely left their whistles in their pockets.

Boyle, Gabriel Verpaelst and an Allen player all collided with 4:17 to go, and there was some concern for Grizz fans as Boyle remained down for a long moment, requiring assistance to stand up. However, after taking a spin, he remained in net, and fortunately appeared none the worse for wear.

Puskar got a shot right off the draw, and Brassard beat Allen to the rebound, making it 1-0 Utah at 17:17.

With just 8 seconds to go, Erik Bradford had an absolutely terrific chance, but Gill jumped on it. The Grizzlies definitely looked sharp throughout the first frame, picking up 15 shots to Allen’s eight and once again taking a lead into intermission, clearly outworking the reigning Kelly Cup champions.

Utah began the second period well, nearly capitalizing on an Allen miscue in the early going. The Americans struggled a little, icing the puck several times in a row, and looking a little tentative for the division leader playing the team that squeaked in to the playoffs in the eleventh hour.

The Puskar line remained the most obviously dangerous throughout, but the Grizzlies in general continued to control the game. Bradford got a nice chance, as did Tim Daly on the same shift with about thirteen minutes to go in the second.

Just moments later, Puskar sprang a flying Eick, and Eick once again deked out the goalie, making it 2-0 on a gorgeous play at 7:28. Daly was boarded about a minute later, and Utah went to the power play.

Allen got one of the better chances on the Grizzlies’ man advantage, and the Americans returned to full strength with no change in score.

With just over eight minutes to go, the Americans thought they’d scored, but the puck had glanced off the post crossbar, the refs waived it off, and play continued.

Puskar forced Gill to make a big save on one end, and Boyle answered on the other, robbing Alex Krushelnyski at 5:43.

The Martin-Cuddemi-Bradford line had a number of really good chances as the period drew to a close, but it was Puskar who scored on a rebound at 17:54 from Eick and Brassard.

Less than a minute later, Josh Brittain boarded Phil Pietroniro, and Pelech made it 4-0 on a pretty passing play with 31 seconds left in the period.

After 40, Utah held a commanding 4-0 lead, and was outshooting Allen 25-20.

Allen played a much better third period, and at 5:49 Martin took a hooking call against Krushelnyski. The Americans responded by pulling Gill to play six-on-four with an empty net.

Though the Grizzlies spent nearly the whole kill in their own zone, they did a terrific job of frustrating Allen. Pietroniro blocked a big chance, Higby took another, and Boyle turned aside or smothered all the others, including an absolutely spectacular stick save in the dying seconds of the kill.

Unfortunately, after killing off the penalty, Brittain scored with 11:11 to go. However, that would be the only goal Boyle allowed, and the Grizzlies were not at all deterred, despite the Americans finally waking up.

Brittain took an interference call against Cuddemi with 5:19 remaining, and Utah once more went to the power play. The Grizzlies didn’t so much try to get another goal as to keep the puck as far away from the Americans as possible. Allen had a short-handed chance, but otherwise, time continued to tick away.

Verpaelst took a holding call with 3:22 left, and Allen once again pulled Gill for the extra attacker. Once again, though, the Grizzlies’ penalty kill came up huge, and Boyle was absolutely rock solid. Allen kept Gill pulled after the penalty to Utah expired, but they remained unable to solve Boyle, and David Makowski got an elbowing call against Brassard to end the game.

Boyle was named first star of the game with 36 out of 37 saves, while Eick got second star with the game winning goal and an assist, and Puskar was named third star with a goal and two assists of his own.

The Puskar line, as mentioned previously, was spectacular throughout, picking up ten of the team’s 30 shots, while Cuddemi had five all on his own. It was, in general, a really strong effort from Utah top to bottom. The power play, which struggled mightily at times throughout the regular season, made a contribution, while the penalty kill continued its run of excellence.

Utah comes back home with the series split 1-1, having kept up with – or even out played – Allen for large parts of two games in enemy territory. The Grizzlies will definitely look to continue that momentum through the home stand.

 

Image courtesy of Tim Broussard/Jess Fleming

Utah Grizzlies: Game One

The fight to make the circus is over, and now the battle begins in earnest. Sixteen teams, four rounds, one prize. Garrett Haar returned to the lineup for the Grizzlies, while Cam Reid and Colin Martin remained sidelined, and Kevin Boyle made his seventh straight start.

Which did not exactly begin well, as Allen scored two minutes into the first period.

But that wasn’t the end of the story.

Austen Brassard drew the first penalty of the game, as Mike Gunn took an interference call at 5:36, and just moments later, Riley Gill put the puck over the glass, sending Utah to the 5-on-3.

The Grizzlies weren’t able to capitalize on the power play, but Erik Higby made it 1-0 just after it expired, and Marc-André Lévesque struck again for good measure at 9:09 to make it 2-1. Ralph Cuddemi and Mathieu Aubin got the assists on Higby’s goal, while Lévesque’s was unassisted.

Gill took a roughing penalty against Michael Pelech, and Utah went back to the power play. Allen killed off the penalty, and Pelech took a tripping call of his own at 12:00.

Utah kept the Americans scoreless, and the Grizzlies went the other way. A shot from Jon Puskar hit Gill up high, and he left the game replaced by Jamie Murray. Pelech took another penalty with 3:57 to go.

Utah killed that penalty off as well, and Larraza and Brassard caused havoc around the Allen net.

After 20, Utah led 2-1, and outshot the Americans 11-6.

The second period began in a much more sloppy fashion, and with 15:19, Puskar and Brian Moore got into a shoving match after the whistle. No penalties were called, and Allen began to put some pressure on the Grizzlies. Fortunately, Boyle stood tall.

At 7:17, Puskar threw a shot on net, and a huge rebound came right to the stick of C.J. Eick, who made it 3-1. Unfortunately, the Americans came the other way, and made it 3-2. Allen continued to pressure, and Martin Nemcik took a holding call at 11:20.

Utah’s penalty kill remained perfect, on the penalty kill, thanks in large part to Boyle. Phil Pietroniro took a hooking call and a stick full in the face with 1:15 to go, and Travis Howe served the penalty, while Pietroniro went to the room for repairs.

At the end of forty, the Grizzlies still held the 3-2 lead, but the Americans had taken over most of the momentum and a 16-15 edge in shots.

Utah killed off the remainder of the penalty to start the third, but Allen carried most of the momentum, and at 7:28, Wade MacLeod tied the game. Howe had a terrific chance with just under eleven to go, but the Grizzlies were unable to tie it up.

Gabriel Verpaelst got involved in a scuffle with 4:29 to go, and Joel Chouinard made it 4-3.

About a minute later, Tim Daly and Alex Krushelnyski got tangled behind the Utah net, and Boyle came to Daly’s defense. Marc-André Lévesque fought Bryan Moore in the resulting chaos, and once the refs sorted everything out, Boyle got two for roughing, Krushelnyski got two for slashing, and two for cross-checking, while Lévesque and Moore got five for fighting.

With a minute to go in the game, Utah pulled Boyle, but despite a valiant effort from the Grizzlies on the 6-on-4, including one especially heartbreakingly close chance from Ralph Cuddemi, they weren’t able to tie it up. Allen seemingly scored into the empty net, but it was called off.

So Utah dropped Game 1 4-3 after relinquishing a lead, which is certainly very frustrating, but one thing we did find out. The Grizzlies have what it takes to skate with the Americans.

Higby was named third star of the night, Cuddemi had two assists on the night, and Utah looks to tie up the series on Friday.

Image courtesy of Tim Broussard.

Utah Grizzlies: A Taste of Redemption

With eight games to go in the season, Utah looks to continue their tradition of closing out the year on the high note. Branham elected to start Rob Nichols, signed out of the University of Connecticut in his pro debut, while Erik Higby returned to defense with Daly in the AHL.

Both teams got chances early, while Nichols held the fort. The top line of Zac Larraza-Erik Bradford-Ralph Cuddemi looked terrific in the opening five minutes, as the Grizzlies picked up seven of the first eleven shots of the game.

Utah drew the first penalty as Teigan Zahn went to the box for roughing at 9:31, and then just moments later, Gabriel Verpaelst was taken down in the offensive zone, and Cam Maclise went to the box for high-sticking. Higby made it 1-o after a nice shift for Utah, while Garrett Haar and Larraza got the assists.

The rest of their power play looked much improved, getting a few more chances before the Eagles returned to full strength.

The Grizzlies continued to play well, though they did occasionally get caught in their own zone, where they did a good job of helping out their rookie goalie.

With 3:07 to go, Austen Brassard continued his strong play, scoring on a tight angle shot, with assists from Michael Pelech, and Mathieu Aubin, and Haar drew a penalty in the final seconds of the period.

At the end of 20, Utah led 2-0, and outshot Colorado 10-8.

Utah opened the second period with 1:41 left in their power play, but while they got a few shots, so did Colorado, and the Eagles returned to full strength.

C.J. Eick took the Grizzlies’ first penalty of the game, a holding call after he got tangled up with Sean Zimmerman in the offensive zone, but Utah had no trouble keeping the Eagles chasing the puck out o the zone. Aubin took a goaltender interference and Bradford made it 3-0 on a gorgeous short-handed rush.

Unfortunately, Phil Pietroniro took a delay of game penalty just seconds after that, and the Eagles made it 3-1 on a tick-tack-toe play. They scored yet again just moments after that on the 5-on-4 to make it 3-2, and all the momentum the Grizzlies had built up was gone.

Matt Register took a slashing penalty on Nichols, who had to leave the game as a result. Ryan Faragher took over in nets, and the Grizzlies went on the power play. They were unable to convert, and Pietroniro and Harrison took matching minors at 16:02.

The game got a bit out of control as Cuddemi boarded Zahn, and then Jackson Hauk jumped Cuddemi. Brassard, Verpaelst, and Michael Sdao all got involved, and once the dust settled, Cuddemi was given five minutes for boarding, and a misconduct, while Hauk, Sdao, and Verpaelst got two each for roughing.

At the end of 40, Utah maintained the 3-2 lead, but were outshot 24-17, and staring down a three minute penalty kill, and without Cuddemi.

The Grizzlies killed off the three minute Cuddemi major, and Bradford nearly got a second short-handed breakaway, but was not quite able to elevate the puck over Kent Simpson’s pads.

Eick made it 4-2 at 5:32 with assists from Higby and Travis Howe, giving Higby his second point of the game, and Howe his fourth point of the year.

Faragher made some big saves to preserve the two goal lead, and Brassard scored his second of the night into the empty net to give the Grizzlies the 5-2 win.

Haar once again had a great game, as did Brassard, who now has nine points in the last ten games. It was also an encouraging outing, as the entire team looked better than they have at any point in the Colorado series for a complete sixty minutes. Now, if they can keep that momentum rolling, they should do pretty well.

Unfortunately, it has since been announced that Cuddemi has been suspended indefinitely for his hit on Zahn (who has since been placed on reserve), and Nichols has been released to return to UConn to finish school after being injured – though he returns having won his first professional game. So not only will Utah have to fight for their playoff spot without arguably their best defenseman in Daly, but without their leading goalscorer as well.

There is some good news though. With Alaska’s loss to to Rapid City, and Missouri’s win, Utah remains one behind Missouri, but only three behind Alaska for the final playoff spot.

Utah will need to dig in and overcome adversity to finish the season in a playoff spot, but they are no strangers to adversity this year, and have proved on several occasions that giving up on the Grizzlies is unwise.

After all, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Utah Grizzlies: The Comeback Kids

If there was ever a non-playoff series that was a must win, it is this one. Alaska holds the last playoff spot, and is the only team currently in a playoff spot within striking distance. Now they’re in town for three straight games.

With Anaheim trading Kenton Helgesen, Tim Daly’s return to the lineup couldn’t have been more fortuitous. The game also marked Marc-André Lévesque’s first home game as a member of the Grizzlies, and the return of Brad Navin as both players were in the starting lineup against their former teams.

The early going favored Alaska, but a couple of saves by Ryan Faragher allowed Utah to get their legs going.

Jon Puskar drew a tripping penalty at 4:49, and Ralph Cuddemi made it 1-0 exactly five minutes into the first period, with his team-leading 26th of the season. Carlos Amestoy and Lévesque drew the assists, giving Lévesque five points in four games with Utah. Scarcely had play resumed than Navin took down Martin Nemcik at the Grizzlies’ blue line, and Utah went right back to the power play. The power play got some looks, but Navin returned to the ice with no change in score.

Alaska got most of the looks following the power play, as Utah struggled to handle the puck cleanly. With 6:13 left in the first, the Aces capitalized on the issue, tying it up as the Grizzlies got tangled up in front of the net.

Daly took a penalty with 3:14 left in the period, and the Aces took the lead thirty seconds later. Utah pressed hard through the final minutes of the frame, but after 20, they trailed 2-1, and were being outshot to the tune of 12-4.

Just seconds into the second period, C.J. Eick got in on a breakaway, but lost his footing and both he and Kevin Carr ended up in the back of the net, which came off it’s moorings.

The Grizzlies really hustled after that, and Cuddemi got another breakaway for Utah, but was also shut down by Carr.

Unfortunately for Utah, despite gaining ground in shots, and looking better through the early going, Brad Navin made it 3-1 14:21 into the period.

The Grizzlies kept pressing, and the defense made some really great plays to keep the puck away from Faragher, but they remained unable to solve Carr, despite some solid chances.

As the period progressed, it seemed increasingly clear that Utah had all the right ideas with their passes and plays, but seemed unable to execute properly, leading to a number of turnovers and tense moments.

Michael Pelech took a high-sticking call with 8:17 left in the second, and the Grizzlies’penalty kill did a terrific job, but no sooner did they return to full strength than they took a bench minor for too many men. The penalty kill proved to be rock solid, and Puskar drew a roughing call.

This time, when the Utah looked to kick the comeback into gear, it roared to life. Zac Larraza made it 3-2 on a seeing-eye shot that beat Carr with 3:03 left to go, giving the Grizzlies their second power play goal. Lévesque and Amestoy picked up the assists, giving them both multiple point games.

After 40, Utah had closed the gap in both shots (20-19 Alaska), and in score, and finished frame looking much better than they had all game.

Just 1:21 into the third, Erik Higby made it 3-3 from Mathieu Aubin and Erik Bradford, who now has six points in the last four games. Higby’s goal was his eighth point in ten games since his return from injury, and his fourth goal since moving to defence.

Just moments later, Larraza was taken down at the offensive zone blue line, and Utah went to their fourth power play of the night. Mathieu Aubin scored his 14th of the year on a nice shot below the hash marks to give the Grizzlies the 4-3 lead at 3:10. Pelech and Bradford got the assists, giving Bradford, Amestoy and Larraza all multi-point nights.

Faragher, in his turn, was spectacular when needed and the Grizzlies kept skating hard. All through the middle of the period, Utah continued to play well, whatever cobwebs they’d struggled with in the first entirely blown away.

With five minutes left in the game, the score remained 4-3, thanks in large part to Faragher.

Alaska took their time out and pulled their goalie with 1:31 to go, but Pelech took the puck at center ice, and scored into the empty net to give them the two goal lead with 1:10 to go.

Faragher made one last save for good measure, and the Grizzlies took a huge two points.

Aubin, Amestoy, and Lévesque were named the three stars of the game, each with multiple points.

When asked after the game what allowed the Grizzlies to hang on and come back with four unanswered goals Aubin said, “I think sticking together. We knew we had a bad start, not the start we wanted, in that huge game. After the first period, we just talked to each other, had a boost of energy, and then started playing the way we can, and it paid off at the end.”

“I think Tim (Branham) switched it up a bit,” said Aubin of Utah’s lethal power play, and his game winning goal. “Got us in a new power play tonight, put us at a spot where we’re comfortable, me and Pelly and Bradford, and Pelech just gave me an awesome pass. I just had to put it in, it was great.”

“It’s huge” he added, of Daly’s return. “He was our biggest weapon back there. He’s obviously getting back in shape here, he hasn’t played in a while, but he played a great game, and every game is gonna get better so it’s huge for us.”

“Obviously we know we need to win all those three games, we’re taking one game at a time, but for us, what we need is six points, and we’re not going to be happy if we don’t get that.”

Head Coach Tim Branham expressed similar sentiments.

“I wish we’d stop doing that. Give me a heart attack on the bench!” He began, to general chuckles, when asked about the Grizzlies’ continued ability to go down a few goals, and then come roaring back.

“The first period we just didn’t work for it, and we were down 2-1 for a reason. They out-shot us, they out-played us, they beat us to all the puck battles, and then as the second period rolled on, we gradually started to take over, and the second half of that second period was good. Obviously, our power play was really good tonight. Once we kind of got in a rhythm, once we kind of understood that hey if we work hard, do the right things, the things that we’ve talked about, we’re gonna have success. Don’t sit back. Don’t wait for the guy next to you to do it. Take it upon yourself to play your game, and once we start doing that, good things happen.”

With so much at stake in the next month and a half, Daly’s return couldn’t come at a better moment. “It’s very good to have Tim back. You look at him, he’s got a great stick, he makes plays, he has his head up. He’s so poised with the puck. You can tell he’s still ginger out there with his shoulder. He played over 30 minutes a night for us before he got injured, and in every situation, so he’s a huge part of this team, so it’s great to have him back.”

“Now we’re four points back with two games, so it’s huge. We did a good job up in Alaska, we’ve got to make sure we take care of business here at home. No matter what happens this weekend, it’s still not over. There’s a lot of hockey to be played, and we’ve gotta make sure we take it, like you said, one game at a time, and that’s all you can do. It’s one shift at a time, make sure you give  all that one shift and play the right way. If we do that, we’re going to be just fine. We hold our destinies in our own hands. All we have to do is win games. We just gotta take it one at a time.”

Puck drop for game two against Alaska is tonight at 7PM at the Mav.