The San Francisco Bulls lost both games in Las Vegas this weekend. The team took too many penalties and were outshot in both games. Friday, they lost 2-1, and despite a good push in the third period, were outshot 24-22. Instead of improving on Sunday, the Bulls lost 6-2 and were outshot 46-28. It was a disappointing end to a long road trip in which the Bulls only picked up four points in six games.
The Friday game started out well. At the tail end of the Bulls’ first penalty kill, Yanni Gourde gave the Bulls a lead with a short-handed goal. It would be their only goal of the night, but far from their last penalty. In all, the Bulls were short-handed six times.
Las Vegas tied the game during an extended penalty that resulted from a boarding major assigned defenseman Mikael Tam. Matching double roughing minors were assigned at the same time to Dylan King and the Wranglers’ Andrew Sarauer. That left the Bulls to kill four of the five minutes down two defensemen. They were three seconds shy of killing the five minute major off when Sean Wiles scored.
The tie breaker came from a disappointing collapse by the Bulls’ penalty kill while Dean Ouellet was in the box for high-sticking. As Eric Lampe entered the zone, Bulls back-checked in numbers after the puck carrier. Lampe passed the puck it in the direction of the open man, Adam Hughesman in the opposite circle. Heemskerk simply didn’t have a chance to get all the way across to stop it.
The Bulls got their first power play after that. Neither power play unit could sustain an attack until their third zone entry. That ended with a missed keep-in that gave the Wranglers an odd man rush the other way. The Bulls escaped without giving up a goal. The power play hadn’t been over long when Sebastian Trudeau went to the box for slashing.
The Bulls had only six shots on goal after 30 minutes and 17 seconds of play. Midway through the second, the Bulls had their hands full killing another penalty. The Wranglers didn’t score, but most of the Bulls’ penalty killers had been on the ice too long. Scott Langdon made the decision to drop the gloves and give his team a rest. That was the second time on the road trip that Langdon used a fight to get his team out of trouble.
Midway through the third period, the Bulls had back to back power plays, but couldn’t convert. It was a minute later when the Bulls found their offensive footing and applied serious pressure on the Wranglers’ defense. Wranglers’ goalie, Joe Fallon, made the job more difficult by not giving up many rebounds. Some of the Bulls’ best chances ended up in his glove.
The Bulls fought hard for the equalizer but couldn’t get it. The final faceoff was moved to the neutral zone with only 3.5 seconds left after a ferocious scramble in front of the Wranglers’ net.
There wouldn’t be time to score, but the Bulls did win the draw and get one last shot on net, to bring them within two on the shot clock. That was an improvement since the Bulls trailed there through the first two periods. In the third, they did outshoot Las Vegas 12-7.
The Bulls’ second game was much worse. Falling 6-2 to the Wranglers, the Bulls scored their two goals within 32 seconds of each other in the third period. That short window was a good indicator of how dominant the Wranglers were through that game.
The Bulls started Sunday’s game without defenseman Mikael Tam, who was fined and suspended for one game as a result of his boarding major in Friday’s game. Much as Tam has contributed to the team, it is unlikely that his absence alone accounted for the disorder and ineffectiveness that characterized the Bulls’ game.
@SFBullsInGame: Wranglers score on what was supposed to be a pass across the crease by Sean Wiles. That will end Nelson’s day as Thomas Heemskerk fills in.
After the Wranglers’ scored three times on ten shots in the first period, Bulls’ Coach Pat Curcio pulled goalie Taylor Nelson. The first goal against was at even strength, but the second two were power play goals. This was a good indicator of what was going wrong for the Bulls: they couldn’t stay out of the box, and this wouldn’t change no matter who was in net. At 16:04 of the first, Christian Ouellet was given two minor penalties, one for slashing and one for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Wranglers scored on both power plays.
At first it seemed that goalie Thomas Heemskerk would keep the Bulls in the game, but continuing penalties and mistakes would be more than he could compensate for. Bulls’ Captain Scott Langdon started the second period with a fight. It seemed to galvanize the team, as they tightened their defense and had a couple of good chances:
@SFBullsInGame: A nifty move by @1986jmorrison, puck moving right but Morrison left to split around the defenseman leads to a chance on net but it’s saved.
At 3:07 of the second, Las Vegas’ Scott Pitt was called for goaltender interference, but the Bulls couldn’t score on the power play. The Bulls took two more penalties, a boarding minor to Hans Benson, and a slashing minor to Simon-Danis Pepin. The second power play was cut short by a high-sticking minor to Pitt, but the Bulls lost a lot of valuable time that could have been used to get their offense going. Later in the period, the Bulls had to kill a penalty for too many men on the ice as well.
By the end of the second period, the Bulls were down 4-0. It didn’t get better in the third, with Las Vegas scoring just 5:29 in.
The Bulls ruined the Wranglers’ shutout 10:30 into the third, when Dylan King scored on a shot from Bryan Cameron. The Bulls went on to score again, just 32 seconds later with a goal by Simon Danis-Pepin from Dean Ouellet.
The third period penalties were late getting started, and Las Vegas went to the box first, at 12:37. Las Vegas killed off the penalty and less than a minute later, Bulls’ defensemen Scott Langdon and Dylan King took simultaneous minors, for charging and unsportsmanlike conduct respectively. Incredibly enough, the Bulls killed off most of the five on three. It was cut short by 37 seconds when Las Vegas center Eric Lampe was called for interference.
The Bulls handled the rest of the five on four penalty kill but it took its toll, undermining whatever comeback chances they had. With less than three minutes left in the game, the Bulls were still down 5-2. Another goal for the Wranglers at 19:02 seemed like a redundancy.
The Bulls’ next game is Wednesday at home against the Alaska Aces at 7:15 PST. They will play ten home games this month, and seven of those will be broadcast on CHN 104.
Friday scores and saves:
Wranglers’ goals scored by Sean Wiles(20)(PPG, Fritsch, Pitt), Adam Hughesman(11)(PPG, Lampe, Cook). Joe Fallon made 21 saves for the win.
Bulls’ goal scored by Yanni Gourde(1)(SHG, C Ouellet). Thomas Heemskerk made 22 saves for the Bulls. The Bulls’ power play went 0/4, their penalty kill 4/6.
Sunday scores and saves:
Wranglers’ goals scored by: Scott Pitt(11)(Sarauer, Wiles), Jamie Fritsch(3)(PPG, Pitt, Sarauer), Sean Wiles(22)(PPG, Sarauer, Pitt), Chris Francis(18)(Pitt, Lampe), Wiles(23)(Sarauer, Boe), Francis(19)(Finucci). Joe Fallon made 26 saves for the win.
San Francisco goals scored by: Dylan King(20)(Cameron, Clendenning), Simon Danis-Pepin(4)(D Ouellet, Sivak). Taylor Nelson made seven saves and Thomas Heemskerk made 33 saves. The Bulls’ power play went 0/4, their penalty kill 6/8.
(Originally published at Inside Hockey)