EDMONTON, Alberta – The Washington Stealth struggled to score in first and never really got their legs as Edmonton and rookie Mark Matthews ran away with a 15-10 NLL decision before 5,627, Friday at Rexall Place in Edmonton.
The loss dropped the Stealth to 4-4 while Edmonton, now 2-4 with both wins coming against the Stealth, notched their first home win this season.
“We knew exactly what was coming and we let it happen to us,” said Stealth Coach Chris Hall. “We got behind the eight ball early. We just let them smother us right away.”
Playing without the services of defenders Bill Hostrawser, Jeff Moleski and Tim Henderson, Washington was outshot 61-35 and on offense was never able to challenge an Edmonton squad hungry for their first home win of the season.
Although Edmonton landed the first two goals of the game on scores by Ryan Ward and Matthews, Washington came back with a Brett Bucktooth power play goal at 5:06 and a score by Rhys Duch at 3:44 to knot the game at 2-2.
But after three Edmonton goals followed, two closing out the first and Matthews’ opening score in the second, the Stealth were down 5-2 and had managed just five shots – four coming on a power play attempt early in the first.
After the Rush extended their lead to 7-3 at the half, Hall implored his team to stick to its fundamentals in the second.
“At the half I told them ‘we’ve got to stick with the game plan. We’ve got to make a better effort’,” said Hall. “We’ve got to be playing smarter with the ball and getting away from the pressure.”
The result brought the Stealth out charging in the second with Duch’s second of four goals on the night at 14:20 and a power play shot by Lewis Ratcliff at 13:53 to bring the game within two at 7-5.
For Duch, his four goals marked a season high and was the right-handed forward’s sixth hat trick of the season and second three-goal effort against the Rush.
But that was as close as the Stealth would get as Edmonton’s Matthews netted his fourth of the night at 12:06 of the third to launch five of the next seven goals and extend the Rush lead to 12-7 by the end of the quarter.
“We became stagnant and comfortable,” said Stealth defender and team captain Kyle Sorensen. “The mental preparation wasn’t there. We turned the ball over too much. We made mistakes all over the floor. We didn’t get stops when we needed them.”
With 10:25 to go in the third, Sorensen seized a rare opportunity for a defender, grabbing a loose ball and sprinting the length of the floor throwing the ball past Rush goaltender Aaron Bold at point blank range. But the apparent score was waved off after Sorensen was ruled to have stepped in the crease.
On the change of possession, the Rush’s Jarrett Davis took the ball up the floor and scored just 11 seconds later to extend the Edmonton lead to 10-5.
It was a two-goal swing that could have gone the other way.
“We needed to bear down there,” said Sorensen. “It turned a potential three-goal game into a five-goal game pretty quick.”
The final quarter started as the third left off with Matthews, the first overall pick in the NLL Entry Draft, tallying his fifth and sixth scores of the night by the 7:02 mark.
Washington attempted a late rally with Duch netting two of the next three to make it 14-9 at 4:53 and Athan Iannucci getting his second just 51 seconds later to make it 15-10. But Zach Greer added insurance for the Rush at 2:11 with the final goal of the contest.
“We’ve got to look at it,” said Hall. “We’ve played two great games defensively (allowing just 13 total goals in a narrow road loss to Rochester and last weekend’s home win against Colorado). Tonight we got away from the things that we needed to do.”
For the Stealth, Duch led all scorers with four goals and four assists for eight points, while Iannucci had two goals and two assists for four points. Brett Bucktooth finished with a goal and two assists.
Matthews led the way for the Rush with six goals and an assist for seven points, while Ryan Ward finished with two goals and four assists for six points.
The Stealth return home Saturday, Feb. 23 for a 6:45 p.m. home matchup with West Division rival Calgary Roughnecks. Game time at Everett’s Comcast Arena is 6:45 p.m. PST. Tickets are available at www.StealthLAX.com .
Scoring 1 2 3 4 F
Washington 2 1 4 3 10
Edmonton 4 3 5 3 15
NLL Week 7
Around the NLL (Games for Friday, Feb. 15, 2013)
Around the NLL (Games for Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013)
Calgary at Minnesota
Buffalo at Rochester
Edmonton at Colorado