It takes three solid lines to build a consistent winner in the ECHL, but it takes one great one to put a team over the top.
The Lynx have been proof of that the past two nights, what with the Alberta Connection back in business.
"I said it three weeks ago, that if we don't make playoffs, a big part of it will be because our line didn't contribute,"' said Louis Dumont, who scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner midway through the third period, and added a pair of assists in a 6-4 victory over the Greensboro Generals on Saturday.
"Our line's got to produce for us to win. And when all three lines are going, like they have been the last two nights, we're a very good hockey team."
Dubbed the "Alberta Connection" last week by Pettersen because all three players hail from the western Canadian province, the trio snapped out of its mini-funk with a combined seven points in Friday's 6-0 win over Charlotte. The line had managed just one goal and one assist in their three previous games.
But the best news of all Saturday for the Lynx came in the standings. With the victory, and a little bit of help around the league, Augusta (29-30-3) gained sole possession of the 11th and final playoff berth in the Southern Conference with the victory.
With Birmingham's 5-0 loss to Greenville, Jackson's 2-1 loss to Pensacola and Jacksonville's 4-3 shootout loss to Mississippi, the Lynx are now alone in 11th place with 61 points heading into today's game at Tallahassee.
"We've got to keep winning and gain more spots now," said Pettersen, whose two goals gives him 30, which ties Darren Colbourne's club record set last season.
"We're not worried about the teams behind us now. We're worried about the teams ahead of us. As long as we keep winning, we know we can move up a couple of more spots before it's over."
Contributions also came Saturday from the surging No. 2 line, with burgeoning second-year winger Chris Thompson scoring his 22nd goal of the year and adding a pair of assists. Center Andrei Chouroupov also added a pair of assists, as the line -- which includes right winger Jonas Soling -- has combined for three goals and six assists in the past two games.
"And then you look at our third line," Dumont said. "Guys like Stacey Rayan killing penalties and winning key faceoffs, and guys like Paul Ferone, who we added this weekend and is an extremely valuable guy to have on a hockey club. That's what wins you hockey games."
But despite the fact that they have won but 18 games this season and are out of playoff contention in the Northern Conference, the Generals (18-38-7) refused to lay down.
The Lynx turned in a solid first period, taking an early lead just 49 seconds in on Pettersen's first goal, but still trailed 2-1 after the opening 20 minutes.
Augusta came out with jump again in the second period, but still couldn't shake the determined Generals. With the score knotted at 3 and the Lynx on a two-man advantage power-play, Dumont buried the first of his two goals with one second left in the period to give Augusta a 4-3 lead.
After Thompson picked up the puck down low, he slid a pass to Dumont at the left circle. Dumont then blasted a wrister past Greensboro goalie Francis Larivee a split second before the horn sounded. Generals coach Jeff Brubaker argued briefly, but the officials never wavered on the call. Replays later showed they were indeed correct.
But with a fluke goal at 3:53 of the final period, the Generals fought back and tied it at 4. Center Joel Irwin slid a harmless pass into the slot, but the puck deflected off Dumont's skate and past Lynx goalie Judd Lambert.
But Dumont quickly got it back with a skating and stick-handling clinic that culminated with his 23rd goal of the year and second game-winner as a Lynx at 10:28.
Defenseman Corey Smith added insurance with his third goal of the year at 10:28, finally giving the Lynx some breathing room. Lambert finished with 34 saves, evening his record at 22-22-3 with the win in his 25th straight start.
"We've got eight games to go and we can't let up now," Chouroupov said. "We can't let it get in out head that we're (in the playoffs) now. We can't let up. We've got some more work to do."
NOTES: In Friday's 6-0 win over Charlotte, Dean Tiltgen suffered a gash just above the bridge of his nose that required stitches after Checkers' forward Kevin Pozzo caught him with a high stick. Tiltgen finished the game and was in the lineup Saturday vs. Greensboro.
Reach Rob Mueller at (706) 823-3425.
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