Bandits making most of opportunities Lambert's overtime goal leaves Bears in 2-0 hole

April 22, 1996|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

The Bandits stuck to their pre-playoff game plan of "look before you leap" and, as happened the night before in Hershey, came away with a victory over the Bears on Saturday night to assume a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five opening-round series.

In a much slower, almost tediously paced game at the Baltimore Arena, the Bandits finally prevailed when Denny Lambert scored his first goal of the postseason after 5: 46 of overtime for a 3-2 victory.

Lambert was not being a reluctant hero afterward when he indicated he had only a sketchy idea of what transpired while he was pushing Hershey to the brink of elimination.

"They [Bears] were trying to clear the puck out of their end," he said, "and it hit Kinger [Steve King]. Then it went up in the air just like a fly ball.

"I turned around to back-check and there it was on the ice, so I took a swipe at it. Then I went down."

Lambert was down, yes, but he had no intention of it being for the count: "I think my shot hit the goalie [Tim Cheveldae of Hershey], then think it came back and hit me and went back toward him. Next thing I saw was it was on his pads and I took a swing at it. That must have done it."

Almost from the time they dropped the puck in Hershey on Friday night, Lambert has been a marked man as far as the Bears are concerned. It seems as if he's had more fights in the first couple of games than Sugar Ray Leonard did throughout his career.

Every time you looked up, he's been heading toward the penalty box accompanied by an adversary from Hershey.

"I've been aggressive, that's my game," he said, "but I don't think I've initiated as many scrums as they have; and, I'm not hurting the team because I always take a guy off with me."

Until Lambert came through after 65: 46 of play, Hershey had the edge in play from the end of the first period on. The Bears trailed, 2-1, after 20 minutes and finally squared matters with a power-play goal early in the third period.

The rivals then matched remarkably inept power plays for 20 minutes as they ended up a combined 2-for-16 in man-advantage situations over the course of the evening.

"A warrior, it's as simple as that," Bandits coach Walt Kyle said of Lambert. "The tougher the play gets, the better Denny likes it."

Faced with the prospect of elimination when Game 3 of the Series is held Wednesday night in Hershey, Bears coach Bill Barber said, "I'm not disappointed. Great goaltending by Mike O'Neill has had a definite effect on the two games so far. All we have to do is win at our place and, if we do, this series will go five games."

After a 43-save performance in the Bandits' 5-2 victory in Hershey, O'Neill kicked aside 42 of 44 pucks sent his way Saturday. He says his mostly young defense has been doing a good job, though, because he's facing a majority of straight-on shots, many from a distance. "The quick passes across the slot or backdoor passes are the ones that lead to goals all the time," he said.

The defenseman gaining the most praise from Kyle and assistant Mike Gibbons has been Nikolai Tsulygin, "although all of them have been doing a good job," said Kyle.

Pub Date: 4/22/96

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