John Mulhern recaps last night's 3-1 loss to Colorado...
Despite another outstanding night in net for Idaho Steelheads goaltender Josh Robinson, the Colorado Eagles increased their physical presence to even the best-of-seven first round series at one game each as the series shifts to Colorado for game three Tuesday. Goals from Kevin Young and Trent Daavettila in second period were enough for the Eagles to get a 3-1 win. David deKastrozza got his third goal of the series for Idaho. He is the only Steelheads player to find the back of the net through two games.
Colorado seems to have had the better of the play over the first two games. Outside of the first ten minutes of the first period of game one and the better part of the third period in game two, Colorado has been able to get the puck into the Steelheads zone and control attack time and puck possession.
Colorado also made a concerted effort to increase some of the post-whistle activity in game two and for the most part the Steelheads were able to skate away and avoid any penalties. Referee Nic Leduc did a decent job of keeping things under control only and calls (or non-calls) have not been a factor in the series so far. It will be interesting how things play out as the series changes cities and most likely referees. Will the teams be given the latitude they had in Boise, or will it be a more tightly called game?
I don’t think it is unfair to say that without Josh Robinson in net, this series could very well be 2-0 in favor of Colorado. But I also think it is fair to say Idaho has done a great job keeping a very explosive team off the scoreboard. It is also missed a chance for the Steelheads to be up 2-0 in the series as well. This has been an evenly played series so far and from the look of things, six or seven games is looking more of a certainty than anything else at this point.
The thing I always end up having to remind myself of after a team’s first playoff loss is that a team is not going sweep its way through the playoffs. They are going to lose and to over-react would be to blow one game out of proportion.
Josh Robinson continues to be the story of the series so far as he came up with 14 more saves in the first period including another highlight real save on a partial breakaway from Kyle Ostrow. Robinson was able to get his right pad on a backhand shot after going down for a poke check as Ostrow was able to cross his face.
Colorado almost had a lead five minutes in after Brock Nixon hit the post on a shot from center point. The Steelheads would end up with 9 shots in the first period, but no real high quality scoring chance to speak of. Idaho was 0-1 on the power play only registering 1 shot. Colorado would have some carry over time into the second period after a Damon Kipp tripping call.
Overall, the Eagles did a good job of pinning the Steelheads back into their own zone and they were able to get more pucks out in to the slot area of Idaho. Credit the Steelheads defensemen as they did a great job of lifting sticks and forcing shots to come from the outside. Two lineup changes for Idaho and Eamonn McDermott and Andrew Conboy are in for Dalton Reum and Tommy Grant.
The second period was mostly Colorado. The Eagles were able to start the period on a short carryover power play, but the Steelheads were able to kill that off. The Eagles continued to pressure throughout the entire period and ended up leaving the frame with a 2-1 advantage.
The Eagles would open the scoring with a Kevin Young blast from the point on the power play at the 2:30 mark of the period. Not to be out done, Trent Daavettila would come out of the left wing corner and place a nice backhand far post over Josh Robinson’s glove to make it a 2-0 Eagles lead.
The Steelheads would get one back on some 4-on-4 play as David deKastrozza would get his 3rd of the series at the 9:24 mark of the period to bring the Steelheads back to within one at the intermission.
Colorado once again carried the play in the Steelheads offensive zone as they outshot Idaho 15 to 4 in the period for a game advantage of 29-13.
One can’t help to start wondering "What if?". The Steelheads once again were able to kill off the Eagles carryover power play time to start the period, and then they went on the attack. Unfortunately, increased puck possession and offensive zone time only netted 7 shots and 0 goals in the final frame as the Eagles would take game 2 of the best of seven series by a final of 3-1 to even the series at 1 game apiece.
Idaho was able to find their legs a bit and started skating downhill into the offensive zone, but just seemed to be a step behind the Eagles defensemen in the puck retrieval area. With the increase in pressure through the offensive zone, the Steelheads were able to create some turnovers and in turn 7 shots on net. They rang the puck off the post twice in their bid to tie the game up in the final frame.
The stat from the 3rd period that reflects the Steelheads up tempo pressure was the fact that Colorado only had 7 shots in the 3rd period. Unfortunately, one of those found the empty net after the Steelheads had pulled Josh Robinson for the extra attacker late in the third.
It is however worth pointing out that the 7 shots were Colorado’s lowest shot output over the 6 periods played in the series, and while one could argue they went into a more defensive set, their general philosophy is put the puck on net and see what happens, and the Steelheads did a good job of not allowing that in the 3rd regardless of the Eagles strategic decisions.
Overall the Eagles went 1 for 4 on the power play and the Steelheads went 0 for 2. Josh Robinson again played well enough for the win stopping 33 of 35 shots, while Dustin Butler did get the win stopping 19 of 20.
The series now shift to Colorado for games 3, 4 and 5 starting Tuesday at 7:05 pm Mountain Time. Follow @SteelheadUpdate for in-game tweet updates with the team on the road.