Determined not to make the same season-ending mistakes as last season, the Colorado Eagles came out flying high in the first two games of the Northern Conference semi-finals Saturday night at the Budweiser Events Center.
A packed house was on hand both nights to see the Eagles trounce the visiting Tulsa Oilers and go up 2-0 in the series.
Tulsa, after being thoroughly outplayed in Friday night's 6-3 loss to the Eagles, got a boost early Saturday in the first period when Doug Pirnak tipped Mario Joly's shot past Eagles goaltender Tyler Weiman.
The Eagles got even just eight minutes later when center Riley Nelson tipped in a rebound to make the score 1-1.
Right wing Kevin Marsh lifted a high shot through traffic past Oilers tender Bill Ruggiero. The Eagles led after one period, out-shooting the Oilers 18-7.
"Tonight was a better game all the way around," said Eagles head coach Chris Stewart said of his team's 3-1 Saturday win.
Eagle goaltender Tyler Weiman earned his second consecutive playoff win, blocking 24 of 25 shots, in comparison to the 47-shot assault the Oilers' Ruggiero endured from the Eagles.
"We learned from things that we did Friday night," Weiman said. "Nothing came easy tonight, and I'm glad to get the win."
Friday night's Game 1 was the first time the Eagles and Oilers had met in the playoffs, and both teams started the game strong, making quick, short passes and finishing often brutal checks.
"As soon as the puck dropped we came out flying," said Eagles forward Karlis Zirnis.
The Oilers chose to start backup goaltender Mike Brusseau rather than starter Ruggiero. Brusseau made only 12 starts during the regular season and had never started a playoff game.
The Eagles made the Oilers pay for starting an inexperienced goaltender; halfway through the first period, the Eagles had scored three goals on 13 shots. Ruggiero replaced Brusseau at that point.
The second period told a different story, though. The Eagles, seemingly content to sit on their two-goal lead, almost collapsed offensively, mustering only five shots in the period.
Todd Marcellus and Jason Birmingham both managed to get goals past Weiman to tie the game.
The Eagles came out strong in the third period though, getting a power-play goal from defenseman Matt Desrosiers on the blue line. Kevin Marsh and Karlis Zirnis also scored in the third to cement the Eagles victory.
The teams face off again in game three at 6:05 p.m. on Wednesday in Tulsa. The game can be heard on 99.9 FM.