PHILADELPHIA - Despite the Philadelphia Wildkatz being the number one seed to the New Orleans Rebels' eighth spot in the playoffs, many predicted that the Rebels would be able to hang with the Wildkatz based on how even the two teams match up.
New Orleans proved that by winning Game 1 on Monday, and last night, they proved it by coming back late from a deficit, winning in overtime and taking a 2-0 series lead back home.
The Rebels rallied back from a 3-1 deficit with under five minutes to go and won it just 54 seconds into overtime as Konstantin Glazachev's goal gave New Orleans a 4-3 win along with a 2-0 series lead returning home for Friday night.
"We never doubted for a second that we could hang with anyone," said Kris Versteeg, who scored two goals to give him three in the series so far. "It's a tough building to play in here in Philly, but we've shown that we have a tough team to play against, and I really don't think we're afraid of anyone."
After losing Game 1, the Philadelphia crowd came out in high volume for Game 2 in an attempt to help lead the Wildkatz to a series split. But things appeared ominous early on as Versteeg opened the scoring just 2:08 in with his second of the playoffs to make it 1-0 Rebels.
Philadelphia would strike back after that opening goal, however. A Joe Finley tripping call at 4:30 led to a power play goal from Seth Jones - his first XHL playoff goal - with just one second left on the man-advantage to tie the game at 1. Then at 11:14, Jeff Carter beat Karri Ramo for his first of the playoffs as the Wildkatz went up 2-1 after one.
The second period would be scoreless, but Philadelphia would add an insurance tally at 3:46 of the third when Jason Pominville, filling in on the top line for the injured Evgeni Malkin, struck for his first of the playoffs to put Philadelphia up 3-1.
It would take almost 12 minutes for any further scoring as James Reimer was solid in goal for the Wildkatz, but with 4:50 left in regulation, Vyacheslav Kozlov connected with David Perron for his first to cut the Rebels deficit to 3-2.
23 seconds after Perron's goal, Jones would be whistled for holding, and it wouldn't take the Rebels long to answer as Versteeg scored his second of the game and third of the series 20 seconds later to tie the game at 3. No further goals would come in regulation, and the first overtime goal of the 2014 playoffs would be needed.
The Wildkatz got the first shot of overtime, but the period would not take long to come to an end as former Wildkat Ryan Shannon connected with Glazachev just 54 seconds into overtime for the game-winning goal as the Rebels took a 2-0 lead heading back down South.
O'YES! - Ryan O'Marra scored two goals for the Ottawa Rough Riders as their two third period goals made the difference in a 4-2 home win over the Montreal Moose that ties their series at 1.
STERLING SHARP! - Brett Sterling's two goals, including the go-ahead goal at 8:38 of the third, sent the Oakland Seals to a 5-4 victory in Winnipeg over the Jets to tie their series at 1. Brett Skinner had a goal and three assists, and Juraj Mikus also added two points for the Seals while Bryan Little's two goals and two assists led the way for the Jets.
BROTHERLY LOVE - Henrik and Daniel Sedin each had an assist and a goal on each other's goals as the Vancouver Canucks tied their series with the Speed Kings at 1 thanks to a 3-2 win in Los Angeles. Roberto Luongo made 29 of 31 saves in the win.
2014 XHL CUP PLAYOFFS
Thursday, July 24 - Simming at aprox. 11:49 PM EST - All times Eastern - Jersey color in parentheses
Brooklyn (white) at Greensboro (maroon) - 7 PM - CNBC, TSN, YES, FS South (Brooklyn leads 1-0)
Quebec (red) at Toronto (black) - 7:30 PM - NBCSN, CBC, Radio-Canada (Toronto leads 1-0)
Las Vegas (teal) at San Diego (brown) - 10 PM - NBCSN, CBC, FS San Diego, Cox Sports Las Vegas (Las Vegas leads 1-0)
St. Louis (white) at Edmonton (blue) - 9:30 PM - CNBC, TSN, FS Midwest (Edmonton leads 1-0)