WEST VALLEY CITY The Utah Grizzlies had been on one of their better runs, going 4-0-0-2, scoring standings points in six straight games, before the schedule interrupted things with an eight-day layoff.
That layoff and the National Conference-leading Las Vegas Wranglers put a quick halt to the good feelings the Grizzlies had Wednesday night in a 6-2 loss, their worst of the season in the E Center.
"You don't want to use excuses," Grizzlies' coach Jason Christie said of the days of inactivity.
"Just hopefully we can change it around, and we've got to be ready. We've got to put it behind us. We've got four games at home before the (next) break, and we have to find a way."
His club was skating in sand much of the night while Las Vegas looked like a team that's 17-2-0-2 and has scored standings points in its last 15 games, going 13-0-0-2 during that time, winning home and away, whether the score is 6-2 or 2-1. Utah fell to 11-10-0-2.
The Grizzlies and Wranglers meet again Friday and Saturday nights in the E Center at 7. Utah's long homestand concludes with games Tuesday and Wednesday with Fresno in town.
"I thought some guys were just kind of going through the motions tonight," said Christie, who hasn't had to mention such things since late last season. "Just a lot of standing around tonight, a lot of standing around.
"They beat us to pucks all over the place tonight. We lost battles, and it was just a difference in how we competed before the break.
"We've got to take it as a wakeup call and be ready to go Friday. That's a good club over there, and that's why they're at the top of the league."
Christie said the fault was on "everybody on a whole.
"It's different out there when a team like this comes in, and you've had a week off. It's a good wakeup call for our club."
Las Vegas opened with a 4-0 lead, two goals in the first and two more in the first 11 minutes of the second period.
Utah finally realized the game was on and had a good second half of the second period, Olivier Labelle scoring at 15:11, diving to the goal with a tip pass from Tyler Haskins, and then Justin Bourne goaling at 19:10 of the second, sliding across the slot and backhanding one from about 15 feet.
That left the Grizzlies halfway up the mountain going into the intermission, but the Wranglers didn't allow Utah many more good chances while the Grizzlies played poor defense late in the game.
"We had a lot of energy," said Christie. "It was an uphill battle from there. It's something where we just have to make sure that we bring that energy level that we do have."Josh Sciba of Vegas found himself standing amid three Grizzlies five feet from the Utah goal, and no one touched him, so he popped one in at 12:01 of the third to effectively end the competition. Sciba was again untouched 15 feet up the slot, putting in a pass from the corner at 16:03.
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