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POWER SURGE SHOCKS BANDITS

Just call the Buffalo Bandits' fall from first to fourth place a bit of capital punishment.

The Washington Power dominated the middle quarters en route to a 21-17 National Lacrosse League win over the Bandits before 8,184 at HSBC Arena Saturday night.

The Bandits, who will play six of their last eight games on the road, are 4-2 and now sit behind the Power (6-2), Toronto Rock (6-2) and Philadelphia Wings (5-2). Four teams make the playoffs.

"We played the first six minutes and maybe the last nine," Bandits coach Ted Sawicki. "So maybe we played together for 15 minutes tonight. . . . I think our offense is the best in the league and they were glued to us for those two (middle) quarters. We could not get in the open or into the transition game."

When the Bandits did get open, Washington goaltender Devin Dalep slammed the door with near-record efficiency. He came within two of the league standard for saves in a game with 60 and was especially stingy in the second and third quarters, when the Power outscored the Bandits, 14-5.

"They started shooting a lot of shots wide on me in the third quarter especially," said Dalep, who was beaten nine times with the Power playing shorthanded. "They were trying to pick the corner too much. So I think I did frustrate them, especially in the first half."

Joe Hiltz had four goals and five assists to lead the Washington onslaught and Gary Gait added three goals and five assists.

Buffalo's John Tavares had four goals and eight assists and became just the second player in pro indoor lacrosse history to surpass 600 career points. He now has 604 and is behind only Gait, who has played one more season and has 46 more points. Derek Malawsky chipped in three goals and six assists.

"We were too complacent, we have to show more intensity," Tavares said. "This game killed us because now we've lost the tie-breaker to both Toronto and Washington. That's not a good thing. We're going to have to win some road games now to make the playoffs."

The Bandits bolted to a 4-0 lead in the first nine minutes but Washington scored 18 of the next 23 goals to lead, 18-9, entering the final quarter.

"We were getting tons of great opportunities early, we just weren't putting the ball in the net," Gait said. "We kept at it and stayed with our game plan. We played with great effort as a team."

Buffalo goaltender Phil Wetherup stopped the first 13 shots he faced but by the time the third quarter had ended, he had been pulled in favor of Scott Komer.

"Nothing against Phil, he's not a bad goalie, but he's not one of the best," said Washington's Travis Kilgour, a former Bandit playing his first game against his ex-teammates. "I knew if we could pepper him with shots he might get a little nervous, this being his first year in the league. Then we started beating him pretty good."

The Bandits closed within 18-14 on Pat Maddalena's diving shot with 10:14 left, capping a five-goal burst that took just 4:12. Four came on power plays.

But just 22 seconds later, Maddalena and teammate Andy Ogilvie were both sent to the penalty box. Gait and Hiltz both scored power-play goals in a span of just 46 seconds to give Washington a 20-14 advantage with 8:52 remaining, and any hopes for a miraculous comeback had been dashed.

"They seemed to dominate those middle quarters when they needed to," Malawsky said. "We just couldn't crawl back, we got on a little roll late, but they just had too much momentum."

Washington's Darris Kilgour, a Niagara-Wheatfield graduate who was a Bandits player for eight years, won his first game as a head coach in his old stomping grounds.

"It felt sweet only because it put us in first place," he said. "My heart's always been in Buffalo."

Travis Kilgour scored a huge goal for his team. He took a great pass from Matt Shearer and beat Wetherup with 9:05 left in the first half to put the Power ahead, 7-5.

"I guess I felt a little bit of vindication for leaving Buffalo," he said.

The Bandits, who don't have another home game until March 17 against Albany, start a three-game road trip Friday in Ottawa against the last-place Rebel, who are 0-9.

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