There are two ways to approach the Augusta Lynx's 5-3 win over the Greenville Grrrowl on Saturday.
Should you jump back on the bandwagon after the Lynx snapped a three-game losing skid and stopped the bleeding from an embarrassing 7-2 loss to the Trenton Titans on Friday?
Or, should you play a waiting game to see which direction the ship heads next?
Whether they'll sink or swim remains to be seen, but at least for one night, the smiles were back and the Metallica was blasting from the dressing room speakers.
"I have to say that in my three years here, (Friday) was the most embarrassing loss we've had in this rink, so there was a lot at stake tonight," said Lynx center Lars Pettersen, who delivered with his first two-goal game of the season.
"We had to come out tonight for our own sake, for management's sake, for the city's sake and the fans and give forth a good effort. We did that, except for a few let downs in the third period, and we pulled it out in the end. We've still got a ways to go, but this is a big lift for us."
Goalie Erasmo Saltarelli provided the biggest lift of all. The 26-year-old almost was called up to the NHL by the Chicago Blackhawks to serve as a backup Saturday night in Nashville against the Predators, but he ended up staying in Augusta, turning in his best performance since arriving in the Chris Thompson trade with Greensboro onNov. 27, making 41 saves to improve to 2-3-0.
Along with Pettersen's big night, Dean Tiltgen also scored twice, including an empty-netter with nine seconds left in the game, to close the door on the stubborn Grrrowl, who stormed back with a pair of goals in the third period to cut the deficit to 4-3.
Rob Bonneau also picked up a goal for the Lynx, and streaking Likit Andersson tallied an assist on four of the five goals.
Was all that enough for embattled Scott MacPherson, who has shown the classic signs of a coach under the gun?
"I wasn't feeling it was a must-win for my own security," said MacPherson, whose Lynx improved to 10-14-2, remaining in last place in the Southeast Division, one point behind the Grrrowl (11-15-1). "It's one of those things where every time we go out, we've got to get back in the horse race ... and start competing with other teams."
At the very least, the win spared the Lynx what would have been a melancholy seven-hour bus trip to Richmond, Va., had they lost. Augusta plays its third game in less than 72 hours in its first-ever meeting with the Richmond Renegades at 4:05 p.m. today.
Their efforts also might have saved MacPherson's job, so long as the impatient Lynx owners and GM Paul Gamsby buy into the notion that Saturday's performance - not Friday's pasting by Trenton - truly is indicative of the team's potential.
That potential, which MacPherson has been selling since opening night, showed up from the start. The Lynx played their best two-way hockey in weeks and jumped to a 2-1 lead after one period on goals by Tiltgen and Pettersen.
Colin Pepperall, who scored his first career hat trick in a 7-5 loss to the Lynx in Augusta on Nov. 21, scored one of the Grrrowl's two power-play goals. Scott Kirton had the other at 15:01 of the third period, and Ryan Stewart followed with an even-strength goal just 1:45 later to make it a 4-3 game.
Greenville outshot the Lynx 43-31, but Saltarelli bailed them out, especially during the second period when the Lynx spent a bulk of the stanza shorthanded.
"I'll tell you what, Salty played his (butt) off," MacPherson said.
The Lynx also played most of the night without captain Scott Morrow, who was given a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct after checking Eric Van Acker from behind.
The hit is under review by the ECHL, and Morrow could be suspended for today's game, meaning the Lynx could be without two of the their three leading scorers. Veteran Louis Dumont, who suffered a broken thumb Friday, underwent surgery Saturday and is out four to six weeks.
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