The Skipjacks played well this weekend in Binghamton but just not well enough.
Except for a disastrous first period in Friday's first game of the AHL Southern Division playoff series with the Rangers, the Jacks held their own and even outplayed their opponents.
But as in any hockey playoff series, a hot goalie means the difference.
Goalie Mark LaForest stopped all 41 shots in Saturday's 2-0 win for the Rangers, setting the Jacks back 2-0 in the series. The Rangers won Friday's opener 5-4 at Broome County Arena.
"There is no question that we now face the biggest challenge we've had this season," Jacks coach Robbie Laird said. "We certainly wanted to win a game up there, but we didn't meet our objective. Now we just have to come back to our building and hold our own like they did."
The series returns to the Arena for Games 3 and 4 Thursday and Saturday. A loss in either would put the Jacks in the very precarious situation of having to win all of the remaining games in the best-of-seven series.
"With LaForest in there and everything else clicking, they are playing as well as they can play right now," Laird said. "They could do no wrong this weekend."
Laird said he is hardly disappointed in his club's play, but a few minor adjustments will be made during the week.
"For instance our power play," Laird said. "We were 0-for-5 on Saturday night and that is the big part of the story in a 2-0 game. They killed penalties very well, but we could have been better about applying pressure. It's doing the little things right that's
going to win this series."
Jacks goalie Jim Hrivnak was pounded early in Friday's loss for four first-period goals, and was promptly pulled in favor of seldom-used Shawn Simpson, who came on to stymie the Rangers while the Jacks fought back to within 4-3 early in the third period before falling.
"Shawn is a great guy to have coming off the bench in relief," Laird said. "But Jim Hrivnak has been our goalie and he will continue to start every game as long as he is with us and healthy."
Laird also said he is looking forward to the bigger dimensions of the Baltimore Arena ice as at least a small advantage.
"It has to benefit us," Laird said. "The rink up there is noticeably smaller. They have some big wingers and they play a good clutch-and-grab game. In the playoffs the referees let a little more go and we have had some problems getting speed going down the wing. But we did manage to get 41 shots Saturday.
"We just need to get one or two guys clicking around the net and find a way to beat LaForest."