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Thunder lose 4-2, face elimination tonight

Las Vegas assumes 3-2 series lead in 2009 Kelly Cup Pacific Division Final

Tuesday, 05.05.2009 / 12:03 PM / Future Watch
By Mike Benton  - Stockton Thunder
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Thunder lose 4-2, face elimination tonight

LAS VEGAS 4 - STOCKTON 2
Fisher's 36 saves puts Thunder in 3-2 series hole; Game 6 goes Tuesday

LAS VEGAS - Glenn Fisher made 36 saves, including 15 in the final period to move to 5-1 in the postseason and help the Las Vegas Wranglers defeat the Stockton Thunder, 4-2 in Game 5 of the Pacific Division Final of the 2009 Kelly Cup Playoffs, before 5,389 fans at Orleans Arena on Monday.

For the first time in the best-of-seven series, the Thunder trail, 3-2 and must win Game 6 on Tuesday at Las Vegas to keep its season alive. Dan Spang capped off a three-goal second period by Las Vegas with the eventual game-winning goal, spelling goals by teammates J.D. Watt, Adam Miller and Scott McCulloch's empty netter. Veteran Damian Surma scored a pair of goals for the Thunder, who outshot Las Vegas 38-33.

#4 STOCKTON VS. #2 LAS VEGAS - PACIFIC DIVISION FINALS (series tied, 2-2)
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 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; All Times Pacific

Both teams battled through a scoreless tie in the first period, with Thunder goaltender Parker Van Buskirk turning aside 11 Las Vegas shots. Fisher, making his first appearance in the series since Game 2 and facing his former Thunder teammates for the third time in the postseason, made eight saves in the first which included a point-blank chance by Cory Urquhart which was denied by Fisher's right pad.

A physical game which featured an interference penalty from J.D. Watt's check away from the play and a scrum between the Thunder's Ryan Huddy and counterpart Tyler Mosienko highlighted a game combining for 19 penalty infractions.

Watt, who took the ferocious penalty in the previous frame, scored his third goal of the postseason to put Las Vegas ahead 1-0 with 6:37 gone in the second period, sneaking a one-timer from the base of the left circle under Van Buskirk's blocker on a pass by Mike Hamilton from the slot.

Miller's re-direction at the goal mouth of a Kelly Czuy centering pass put the Wranglers ahead 2-0 with 9:42 gone on a shorthanded goal, but Surma answered with his first goal of the game with 6:47 left in the period on a delayed penalty, unleashing a one-timer between the circles that beat Fisher to the glove side.

Las Vegas hiked the lead to 3-1 on Spang's power-play goal in a scramble from the slot, roofing a wrist shot under the crossbar with 4:32 left in the period.

Surma answered again just 1:26 later to cut the deficit to 3-2 when he took a rebound from behind the goal line and put the puck in the net off Fisher's skate.

The Thunder pressed for the equalizer in the third period, firing 15 shots on goal which included a Kenny MacAulay blast from the slot that was snared by Fisher's glove.

Yet the Wranglers escaped with the win when Scott McCulloch outraced the Thunder defense on a clearing attempt and slipped in an empty net goal with 30.5 seconds remaining to put his team up by two goals.

Van Buskirk dropped his record to 5-4 in the postseason with a 29-save effort.

NOTES: Before the game, the Thunder activated Igor Gongalsky off injured reserve and placed center Judd Blackwater on the three-day injured reserve list ... the Thunder scratched Andrew Perugini (injury, day-to-day), Adam Huxley (healthy), Mike Lalonde (injured reserve), Matt O'Dette (injured reserve), Blackwater and Sebastien Bisaillon (healthy) ... James Bates was held scoreless in the game, which ended his ECHL postseason-best eight-game scoring streak ... Stockton was kept to an 0-for-4 clip on the power-play ... the Thunder dropped to 2-2, lifetime in Game 5 contests.

The Thunder and Wranglers return to play for Game 6 of the series tomorrow at Orleans 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).

Three Stars
1. LV - 35 Glenn Fisher
2. LV - 12 Dan Spang
3. LV - 15 Kelly Czuy

LINK TO BOXSCORE

Author: Mike Benton | Stockton Thunder

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