Returning home after winning all five games of a franchise-record long road trip, the Edmonton Rush couldn't keep the streak going on Saturday.
Casey Powell had two goals and added an assist as the Colorado Mammoth won their second in a row to keep their playoff hopes very much alive, holding on to defeat the Rush 9-7.
"You want to play well anytime in a season, but Edmonton proved last year by going all the way to the finals that it is not necessarily the regular season that means everything, the playoffs is the most important time," said Mammoth head coach Bob Hamley. "We're really happy with the way we are playing right now. We are getting lots of contributions from a lot of guys."
John Delgarno, Richard Morgan, Jamie Lincoln, John Grant Jr., Mat MacLeod, Joey Cupido and Adam Jones also scored for Colorado (6-8), which has won four of its last five games.
Perhaps the biggest contribution is coming in net where Tye Belanger has emerged as the top man of four goalies the Mammoth have gone with this season, stopping 47 shots for the win.
"We're getting the goaltending now," said Hamley. "We weren't getting it earlier in the season but now that we are, we are a different team. I'm very impressed with the way Tye Belanger played tonight."
Belanger feels his team is moving in the right direction at the right time.
"We want to be playing our best lacrosse towards the end of the season because last year this time had a great start and we faltered towards the end," he said. "This year we are amping it up for a late push and a serious run at the championship.
Curtis Knight led the way with two goals for Edmonton (8-6), which saw its five-game wining streak snapped. Mark Matthews, Cory Conway, Ryan Ward, Chris Corbeil and Zack Greer had goals as well.
The Rush have been nowhere near as successful at home this season as they have been on the road, now sitting 1-5 in games played in Edmonton versus an impressive 7-1 record in away games.
"Some people may think we play differently here, I really don't think we do," said Rush head coach Derek Keenan. "We played hard, we ran hard, we dominated loose balls and had great defence — the same things we've been doing on the road, but for some reason we don't get the result.
"But we'll figure it out."
Ward also had a tough time figuring out what went wrong.
"We outshot them by 20 shots, we had lots of great looks," he said. "We were hitting the goalie, making him look good.
"It was tough coming off a bye week, we weren't really sharp and as a result we didn't put up the goals and we lost."
Colorado got off to a quick 2-0 start just three minutes into the game on goals by Delgarno and Morgan on Edmonton starter Aaron Bold.
It took 11 minutes before the Rush got on the board, scoring a power-play goal on a long shot by Matthews that blew past Belanger, It remained a low-scoring 2-1 game heading into the second quarter.
Edmonton pulled even three minutes into the second quarter on a distance blast from Conway and then took the lead two minutes later on a nifty three-way passing play that culminated in a goal by Knight.
The Mammoth were able to tie the hard-fought defensive battle 3-3 on a goal by Lincoln with two minutes to play in the second.
Colorado led 4-3 at the half following a late power-play goal by Powell.
The Mammoth extended their lead to two goals on a quick shot by MacLeod four minutes into the third and made it 6-3 as Cupido scored on a rebound two minutes later.
Colorado got its fifth consecutive goal as Powell scored his second of the game midway through the third quarter.
Edmonton got back into the game on a pair of power-play goals late in the third by Knight and Ward to make it 7-5 heading into the final frame.
The Rush closed to within a goal midway through the fourth as Corbeil scored on a short-handed breakaway.
Colorado responded to make it 8-6 on a goal by Jones with five minutes remaining, however the Rush immediately pulled back with a goal by Greer.
The Mammoth put the game away on a Grant goal with nine seconds left while Bold tried to scramble back after coming out of the net.
Edmonton outshot the Mammoth 54-35 in the game.
Notes: It was the second and final meeting between the two teams this season. Edmonton won the previous encounter 14-7 in Colorado in February... Colorado has traditionally owned the Rush in games played in Edmonton, coming into the contest with wins in six of its last eight at Rexall Place... The Rush were coming off the longest road trip in club history with five straight games away from home. Edmonton, however, won all five of the games on the extended trip... Earlier in the week Rush first overall draft pick Mark Matthews was announced NLL Rookie of the Month for March, the third consecutive month he has taken the honour... Rush veteran Ryan Ward needed 11 points over his team's final three games to break his own team record of 74 points set in 2010... The Mammoth have used four different goaltenders this season and came into the contest having given up 163 goals - the third most in the NLL... Colorado entered the match as the most-penalized team in the NLL with 359 minutes in the box this season.