Walleye can’t complete third period comeback, lose 3-1 to KometsWritten by Vincent D. Scebbi | | email@example.com
Trailing by a goal going into the third period, it almost seemed as if the Toledo Walleye (30-19-6) were going to repeat a come-from-behind victory for the second time in as many nights.
Despite a late third-period goal by Toledo forward Nino Musitelli, the Fort Wayne Komets (27-27-2) answered back with a little over three minutes left and eventually won the game 3-1.
“It was a hard-fought game by both teams, but when you have a goalie like that, and we had chances to score, we just didn’t capitalize which resulted in us losing the game, but there’s always tomorrow,” Musitelli said.
Komets goaltender Jeff Deslauriers, who finished the game with 28 saves, stopped every puck thrown at him until Musitelli’s goal with 5:56 left in regulation.
“Credit the goaltender. He was fantastic for them,” said Walleye head coach Nick Vitucci. “We had eight or nine great scoring opportunities and he turned them aside and as a team, you hope to generate that and take advantage of some of them but once in a while you have to tip your hat to a great goaltender and he played very well for them tonight.”
Toledo had a few solid scoring opportunities turned away by Deslauriers throughout the game, including a one-timer by Musitelli in front of the net that Deslauriers used his 6-foot four-inch frame and lateral speed to turn and deflect the shot during the second period.
Later in the period, the Walleye had similar chances by two different shifts, both times stopped by the netminder.
Forward Willie Coetzee sent a pass to Kyle Rogers, who redirected the pass from the right side of the net, but saw it turned aside.
The following shift, Travis Novak and Byron Froese tried something similar, but again saw the same result from Deslauriers.
Musitelli scored when he took a pass from forward Tyler Brenner and moved inside the right faceoff circle, then fired the puck over the goalie’s shoulder after he went low.
Toledo’s power play went 0-for-3 tonight and they have not had a power play goal in the last 23 attempts.
Their last power play goal was scored by Joey Martin on Feb. 1 against the Elmira Jackals.
“We’re changing everything. We’re changing setup formation and we’re generating all kinds of offense on it and obviously if you’re not generating anything, you really got to look hard at it,” Vitucci said. “We are generating things, but we’re not finding the back of the net. We will continue plugging away at it.”
Fort Wayne got on the board first on a power play goal by left winger Matt Syroczynski with 8:18 left in the second period. Syroczynski took a rebound off a Brett Smith shot and fired the rebound under goalie Kent Simpson’s leg pad.
Musitelli’s third period goal was his fifth of the season and third in as many games for Toledo.
“It’s just taking it game by game and doing the little things and if it results in scoring a goal or an assist, then so be it,” he said. “It’s just doing the little things and whether it’s taking a hit, giving a hit, whatever, doing the simple things to get the puck to the net and the line mates do a great job, getting the puck down low and getting the puck and stuff like that.”
The Komets took the lead with 2:54 left in regulation on a Brandon Marino goal that beat Simpson on the short side.
Syroczynski fired a shot off the right-side post, chased down the rebound and passed it to Marino, who finished the play.
The goal is Marino’s second against the Walleye and he has a team-high nine points (2g-7a) against Toledo.
Jean-Michel Rizk added the insurance goal with 5 seconds left in regulation when he scored an unassisted goal on an empty net.
Tonight’s game also marked the sixth sellout game of the season. When the Huntington Center is sold out, the Walleye are 2-3-1 on the season.
“Whether you’re playing in front of 4,000 fans or 8,000 fans, it’s loud, it’s energetic in this building,” Vitucci said. “Obviously we’re very appreciative of the fans who come out and support us and wish we could’ve scored a few more goals for them tonight.”
To cap off the weekend, the Walleye host division leading Cincinnati Cyclones on Feb. 24.
Despite the fact Cincinnati has a six-point hold on first place, the Walleye have the season series edge, winning four of the six meetings so far.
“We always have great games against Cincinnati,” Vitucci said. “It’s almost an NHL-like pace. They’re very similar to us, a lot of speed, a lot of skill. They’re fun games to be involved in.”
The division rivalry matchup is scheduled to start at 5:05 p.m. at the Huntington Center.