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Utah Grizzlies shut out in series opener

WEST VALLEY CITY — Entering its series with the Las Vegas Wranglers as the lower seed, the Utah Grizzlies undoubtedly wanted to grab the momentum at home.

But after a 2-0 loss Monday night at the Maverik Center, No. 6-seeded Utah must dig out of a hole in its best-of-five series against No. 3 seed Las Vegas, and look to tie things up Tuesday night.

"Obviously, it's disappointing," Grizzlies head coach Kevin Colley said. "The sense of urgency wasn't there; the energy wasn't there. It honestly felt like a preseason game, and I'll take responsibility for that."

The Grizzlies came out aggressive, getting some shots off early. After the initial charge, Utah seemed to somewhat drop back into a defensive mode, as Las Vegas spent some time testing Grizzlies goalie Andrew Engelage.

In the second period, the Grizzlies came out strong again, but that was short-lived as the Wranglers' Eric Lampe put the game's first goal in just 1:14 out of the intermission.

Utah then squandered three straight power-play opportunities. Through those chances and otherwise, the Grizzlies spent the majority of their time in front of Las Vegas' net, but not only couldn't capitalize, they couldn't produce good chances.

"That's definitely deflating," Colley said. "We had good puck movement, but we couldn't get anything done."

On top of that frustration, the Wranglers added another goal in the third period. The score again game from Lampe, and came just three and a half minutes into the third period.

Las Vegas' Judd Blackwater finished with two assists, with Mike Madill and Adam Miller recording one each.

Utah managed nine shots on goal for the period, but most of them were not what could be classified as quality chances. The Wranglers had six shots on goal.

Although Utah held a 5-4 advantage over Las Vegas in head-to-head competition this season, the Grizzlies had a tough time all night, failing to capitalize on any chance the game presented.

Coming into the postseason winning four of its last five home games and eight of the regular season's last twelve, Utah let a chance to take the series lead get past them.

The Grizzlies' hopes in defending their home ice wasn't helped by TV competition from both the NCAA basketball championship game between Kansas and Kentucky and a Jazz road game at Portland.

Attendance totaled just 1,936 (the smallest of the season), and without those competing forces, that number will surely be higher Tuesday night.

Las Vegas goalie Mitch O'Keefe recorded the shutout with 21 saves, while his counterpart from Utah — Engelage — made 26 saves.

The same pair of teams will faceoff again Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m.

Grizz in playoffs

Las Vegas leads series 1-0

Monday: Las Vegas 2, Utah 0

Today: Las Vegas at Utah, 7:05 p.m.

Thursday: Utah at Las Vegas, 8:05 p.m.

x-Friday: Utah at Las Vegas, 8:05 p.m.

x-April 9: Utah at Las Vegas, 8:05 p.m.

x- if necessary