The Oklahoma City Blazers faced its first chance of elimination and survived by beating the Colorado Eagles in front of a sold out Budweiser Events Center Friday.
Goalie Sean Connors was a wall for the Blazers, keeping the Eagles out the net for the first 49 minutes of the game while blocking 34 out of 35 shots on the night. Left wing Ryan Watson added a hat trick as the Blazers cruised, winning their second game of the series 5-1
Left wing Ryan Tobler finally broke up the shutout, scoring the Eagles only goal midway through the third period off of a break away pass from defensemen Jay Birnie.
Watson scored his third goal of the game 41 seconds into the third period, giving the Blazers a commanding 4-0 lead. Colorado proceeded to pull starting goalie Marco Emond, replacing him with rookie Tim Boron. The Eagles would later pull Boron in a desperate last minute effort to create offence, but it wouldn’t work.
Watson felt his team’s game plan had stayed the same throughout the series, even after suffering three consecutive losses to the Eagles previous to Friday’s game.
“Nothing really changed,” Watson said. “We just stressed working hard and we had to go to the net and get some pucks. It worked out well for us.”
The Eagles came out on the attack early, posting seven shots on goal in the opening two minutes of the first period, but their offence would fall off from there.
“It was one of those games where we had good opportunities in the first period and didn’t capitalize on them,” said Eagles head coach Chris Stewart. “After that we had a tough time executing and couldn’t get any bounces to go our way.”
Eagles center Ed McGrane had his 11-game scoring streak snapped during the contest and explained his team didn’t accomplish what they wanted.
“They played well,” said McGrane. We didn’t come out and execute the way we wanted. We all knew this wasn’t going to be easy tonight.”
With the loss, the Eagles drop to 1-3 when they have opportunities to close out a playoff series this season.
Colorado now turns its full attention to game six, which will be played at the Chevrolet Center in Oklahoma City Monday night. It will mark the Eagles second opportunity to finish off the Blazers.
“We know that we have to come out and perform in game 6,” said Colorado right wing Scott Polaski. “It won’t be easy, but we have always been a team that refocuses, goes to play and win the next game. That is what we are going to do this time.”
Eagles beat reporter Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.