NLL: Rush keep playoff hopes alive with 9-8 win over Mammoth

Jordan Gilles and Mark Matthews. The Saskatchewan Rush host the Colorado Mammoth at Sask Tel Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, April 16, 2022 (Photo: Saskatchewan Rush/NLL)

A steady, consistent attack led to a must-win victory for the Saskatchewan Rush on Saturday night as they came from behind to beat the first-place Colorado Mammoth 9-8. As a result, the Rush move up into fifth place in the West Division, keeping their slim playoff hopes alive.

The Mammoth drew first blood with two goals 22 seconds apart early in the first quarter, with the Rush responding with one of their own two-and-a-half minutes later. Colorado restored their two-goal lead four minutes later when Zed Williams scored after slipping his defender and getting to the top of the crease. Saskatchewan were able to pick up their second goal to draw back within one before the end of the period, staying within striking distance.

The Rush scored the first two goals of the second quarter to take the lead, but Colorado answered back quickly, tying the game 30 seconds after Saskatchewan took the lead and re-establishing their lead only a minute-and-a-half after that.

The Rush evened the score at 5-5 just 34 seconds into the third quarter and retook the lead at the 7:51 mark. Meanwhile the Rush defence continued to stifle the Mammoth offence, holding them to just six third quarter shots, all of which were handled by Rush netminder Adam Shute.

The fourth quarter opened with a flurry of offence. Eli McLaughlin tied the game once again just 32 seconds into the quarter, but Saskatchewan answered with two quick goals of their own. Colorado scored again a half minute after that on transition and the Rush once again extended their lead to two goals nine seconds after that.

And then the defence and goaltending locked down again. The Mammoth would finally beat Shute at 9:51 to draw within a single goal, but that’s as close as they would get.

Mark Matthews paced the Rush offence with two goals and four assists, while Ryan Lee continued his torrid pace with the Mammoth, scoring once and assisting on the other seven goals for Colorado to maintain his second-place position in league scoring.

Dillon Ward turned aside 41 shots in the losing effort while Shute made 23 stops for Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan’s schedule doesn’t get any easier, as they face the second-place San Diego Seals next Saturday—the Seals have dropped five straight games, so they’ll be looking to rebound as the postseason approaches. The Mammoth get a week off, then travel to Calgary to face the Roughnecks on April 30.