The Salt Lake Golden Eagles will play at home again this playoff season. Saturday night's 5-3 victory in the Bradley Center made sure of that. They're now up two games to one.
Either the Eagles will win the next two games in Milwaukee and come home to await a championship series (they could start on the road but would have a home game in there somewhere), or, even if Milwaukee wins one or two of the remaining games in the Bradley, there'd be at least a Game 6 in the Salt Palace."We didn't really gain anything," said a cautious Eagle Coach Paul Baxter. "We just regained the home ice advantage; the games are so close I didn't believe it would mean much, and it hasn't. The positive note is, we get to go back home."
That didn't look so certain early Saturday, even though Bryan Deasley scored the game's first goal, at 6:35 of the first period on a power play, the first time the Eagles have gotten the game-opening goal in the three games played so far in the best-of-seven Turner Cup semifinal.
Milwaukee came back with the next two goals to take a lead in its home building.
The Eagles were in trouble. "Absolutely," said Baxter.
On Friday night in Salt Lake, the Eagles had to overcome two first-period Milwaukee goals, too, in coming back to post a 4-3 win.
And it was Paul Ranheim that got them back into it for a second straight night as he scored with a slap shot out of the left-wing corner at 7:57 to tie things up 2-2.
"Ranheim gets another key goal to get us moving," noted Eagle defenseman Brian Glynn, who for the second night in a row sneaked up the slot to score his second goal of the playoffs.
This time, Glynn's goal made it 4-3 at :32 into the third period and turned out to be the game-winner.
"We didn't start the third period the way we would like to have," said Milwaukee Coach Rick Ley. "Just a bad shift to start the period off and give them a spark and deflate us."
Right winger Martin Simard, who scored two goals in the Eagles' first playoff game this season against Denver, scored another two Saturday, getting the third and fifth goals of the night for Salt Lake.
"We didn't play good defense for a while tonight," said Simard. "We tried to play fancy."
But the line with Simard, Marc Bureau and Stu Grimson is hardly a fancy line, and Simard banged in his first goal at 15:13 of the second period when Grimson got it out of the corner, Bureau shot and Simard picked up the loose puck in front. His second goal, the one that pretty much put the game away and made it 5-3, came as a result of a smashing Bureau check that busted the puck loose into the right-wing circle. Grimson took another player out, and Simard had an easy time of it from 20 feet with a wrist shot.
"That's what kind of a series it is, when we go deep in the corner and take the body," Simard said. "Marc finished it. It was just a great forecheck. Our line has to be that way."
Glynn's winner worked almost the same as his goal Friday night that gave the Eagles a 3-2 advantage.
"I've found the last couple of games that their forwards seem to get mesmerized by the puck down low," said Glynn. "I was able to sneak in again, and Rich Chernomaz put the puck right on my stick and I caught the goalie sliding across," said Glynn.
The score came soon after the Eagles had gone to the locker room for the second intermission and discovered they'd had only three shots on goal in the second period. They'd scored on two of them, but it wasn't a good sign.