Some of the lights went out at the E Center prior to the faceoff of Wednesday night's playoff opener between the Utah Grizzlies and Kansas City Blades.

Accordingly, the drop of the puck was delayed by about 10 minutes before technicians repaired the building's electrical glitch.Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, no quick-fix solution was found for their subsequent power problems. The result was an anti-climatic 4-3 overtime loss to the Blades.

Aside from Kip Miller's shorthanded goal, Utah was pitiful on both teams' power-play opportunities.

The Grizz failed to score the eight times they were at an advantage, and even worse, their penalty-killing units coughed up three goals to the Blades.

"We shouldn't have taken so many penalties," Miller said. "We're a better five-on-five team than them."

But any time either team had an advantage, the Grizz fell apart.

Utah's biggest special-teams blunder came with just over six minutes left in regulation when K.C. center Jason Cirone burned the Grizz with an unassisted shorthanded goal to forge a 3-3 tie.

"We just got lazy out there," said Utah coach Butch Goring, whose team blew an early 2-0 lead. "The game should have been over. It's a shame because we worked hard and played a good hockey game."

J.F. Quintin scored the game-winner in overtime, notching his second goal a minute after Utah's Darcy Loewen was called for a four-minute high-sticking penalty.

Goring was furious about the penalty assessed by linesman Steve Metcalf, who had previously slapped Niklas Andersson with a roughing penalty that led to the Blades' first goal.

"We've said all along that Steve Metcalf is anti-Grizzlies," fumed Goring. "He's made calls like that all season. As far as I'm concerned, he plays a role in the outcome of too many games, too many times."

But make no mistake, shoddy special-teams play and unwise penalties cost the Grizz more than anything (or anyone) else.

Utah had players in the penalty box for 26 minutes on 13 different infractions, including roughing four times and three high-sticking calls. That from the team that was the IHL's least penalized in the regular season.

"We talked about how we could not take dumb penalties, and that's what we did tonight," said Goring, who is a stickler for disciplined hockey. "Those are just bad penalties. There's no room for it."

Before Wednesday, the Grizzlies had never lost the opening game of the IHL playoffs. Even more, they had never even given up a goal in their first playoff game in each of the past three years. Two of those shutouts came against K.C., which has been eliminated from the playoffs by Utah three years running.

For the first 20 minutes, they followed that script to a T as Andersson and Greg Spenrath scored goals.

On the other end, all of the Blades' shots were either scooped up or swatted away by goalie Mark McArthur, who was named the start-ing goalie earlier in the day. He finished making 32 of 36 saves.

"I thought he had a good game tonight," said Goring of McArthur, who he picked over Jamie Ram to start the opener. It was McArthur's first-ever playoff appearance in his three years with Utah.

The Blades finally got the puck by McArthur after the intermission with two power-play goals on 17 shots in the second period. The Grizz then regained the lead with a minute to go in the second on Miller's shorthanded score.

Utah lost a couple of its key forwards for the third period - right winger Dan Plante was inadvertently hit in the head by a puck and the speedy Andersson left with an unspecified injury.

Their absence might explain, in part, why the Grizzlies only got off three shots in the third period and one in overtime.

Because of a rodeo at the E Center this weekend, Game 2 won't be played until Monday at 7 p.m.

"We've just got to tighten up and get better on our penalty kill," said Miller. "Now we've got to win our next game."



IHL playoffs


First round


K.C. leads series 1-0

Game 1 - K.C. 4, Utah 3

Game 2 - Monday

K.C. at Utah, 7 p.m.

Game 3 - Friday, April 24

Utah at K.C., 6:30 p.m.

*Game 4 - Saturday, April 25

Utah at K.C., 6:30 p.m.

*Game 5 - Monday, April 27

K.C. at Utah, 7 p.m.

*-if necessary