James Brown Arena was packed when the largest crowd since the opening game of the 2004 season showed up on Saturday night. For the second night in a row, the Lynx's offense didn't.
The Lynx (23-19-1-3) lost 3-2 to the Pensacola Ice Pilots in overtime in front of an announced crowd of 5,506. Lynx head coach Bob Ferguson sent a wake-up message to his forwards by starting four defensemen and captain Louis Goulet on Saturday night after his offense was almost nonexistent in a loss to the Ice Pilots on Friday.
"It was a combination of trying to send a message and just trying to find a way to create some offense," Ferguson said.
For at least a period, the tactic worked. The Lynx came out and treated the large home crowd to an action-packed first period that saw a total of 34 penalty minutes.
Somewhere in the midst of 11 penalties whistled in the period and a penalty box filled with half a dozen players at one point, the Lynx managed to score. Goulet sent the puck in from the wing, and defenseman Adrian Veideman deflected it just enough to beat Ice Pilots goaltender Mike Brodeur on the near-side post for a 1-0 lead.
"We stressed before the game to get involved and get inside, and I think we did that early," Ferguson said. "The first period, I think they got the message -- it's urgency time. But then I think four games in five days caught up with us."
Pensacola tied the game less than two minutes into the second period on a goal from former Lynx player Dan Sullivan. Another former Lynx player, Pensacola forward Joel Stepp, came alive late in the game.
Stepp scored the go-ahead goal five minutes into the third period on a breakaway with a delayed penalty coming. The 2-1 lead looked like it would last, until a last-ditch effort by the Lynx paid off in the form of a Matt Auffrey goal with 4:37 left in regulation.
The 2-2 tie extended through the end of the third period, but it took only 93 seconds of overtime to decide it. Stepp once again made the difference when he slid in from the side and wrapped the puck just inside the post to beat Lynx goaltender Bobby Goepfert.
The Lynx hadn't lost a game all season when leading after the first period.
The lowly Ice Pilots (10-30-1-3) swept the Lynx on their home ice during the two-game set.
Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.