Walleye rally falls short in 5-4 OT loss to Fort WayneWritten by Vincent D. Scebbi | | firstname.lastname@example.org
FORT WAYNE, Ind. — For the third consecutive game, the Toledo Walleye (30-19-8) scored late in the third period to tie the game, but failed to complete the comeback and earn two points.
Despite two goals by forward Trevor Parkes, the Walleye dropped their second-straight overtime loss, this time a 5-4 decision against the Fort Wayne Komets (28-28-2) on Feb. 27.
“Obviously we want to get every point possible, it’s just unfortunate we’re messing up in the overtimes and the four-on-four, which we are trying to work on because when playoffs come, you can’t be losing games like that,” said forward Willie Coetzee. “We don’t get points for a game like that. We get a win or a loss.”
Teams earn two points for a win and one point for an overtime loss. Points are used to determine division and conference standings, with the top eight teams making the playoffs.
Toledo found themselves down 4-2 after the Komets scored three goals in the second period, two within a span of 26 seconds.
The Walleye have now lost seven straight overtime decisions. Their last extra-time win came on Nov. 30 with a 3-2 game against the Kalamazoo Wings.
Coetzee said a lack of communication has left Toledo settling for just the one point in overtime games.
“It happened to me last game. Myself and Lampl weren’t talking and they went down and scored on us,” he said. “I think we’re working hard. I know we want it. I just don’t think we’re communicating the way professionals should be.
“I just think we’re not communicating for plays in zone or big rushes. Also, we have to get pucks in and keep it down low. When it’s at their blue line, we can’t sauce it, just got to keep it simple.”
Three of the five Fort Wayne goals came off shots deflected off Walleye players and past goalie Kent Simpson, who finished the night with 25 saves.
“You can’t control lady luck and we didn’t have a lot of it today so we’ll look at it as a positive that we found a way to get a point instead of nothing, but obviously our goal is to get two points,” said Walleye head coach Nick Vitucci.
Toledo’s power play capitalized on one of six chances and fired more than 10 shots on net with the man advantage. After going 26 power play attempts without lighting the lamp, the Walleye have two goals in their last seven power play attempts.
“If you were here, you saw the opportunities we had and the control that we had. It’s definitely coming; we’re happy with where our power play is right now and how it’s looking,” Vitucci said. “We’ve got a little different personnel in our lineup that are moving the puck quicker and getting pucks to the net and that’s what we need to do.”
Toledo was able to throw five shots on Komets netminder Jeff Deslauriers on a power play late in the first period, but saw no goals from it and had their time cut short after forward Byron Froese was called for boarding.
Fort Wayne struck first, just 1:45 into the game, after defenseman Jamie Milam’s shot got past Simpson. Daniel Nycholat picked up the assist.
The Walleye responded with 6:59 left in the opening period on Froese’s goal when he threw the puck to Rogers, who was crashing the net, but the puck went off a defenseman’s skate and past Deslauriers. Wes O’Neill assisted the goal.
The Komets capitalized on a power play goal from Brandon Marino with 17:04 left in the second period. Forward Colin Chaulk passed the puck to Marino from behind the net and the forward fired the puck from the front of the right circle past Simpson.
Just 33 seconds later, Fort Wayne tallied another goal when Kaleigh Schrock scored and Matt Firman picked up the assist.
Toledo cut the lead to 3-2 with 12:38 left in the middle period after Parkes got the puck poked away on the breakaway in front of the crease and Coetzee crashed the net and lit the lamp.
The Komets increased the lead to 4-2 when Thomas Beauregard’s shot from the left corner was deflected in front of the net and in. Marino assisted the goal.
Parkes cut the deficit to one after a quick wrist shot went over Deslauriers’ glove and into the net with 14:14 left in regulation.
Toledo capitalized on a high sticking penalty on Wheeler with 4:38 left in the third period. Although the goal is credited to Coetzee, who fired a hard slap shot to the net, he said Parkes deflected the puck past the netminder.
Fort Wayne’s game-winning goal came on its third odd-man rush of the overtime period. On a three-on-two, Rizk beat Simpson on a wrist shot from the left circle with 1:55 left in the extra period. Jamie Milam and Matt Firman assisted the goal.
The Walleye were outshot 4-0 in overtime, but fired more total pucks on goal than Fort Wayne (35-30).
The overtime loss brings a slight consolation prize in that Toledo moves up to fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Walleye head down to Evansville, Ind. to face the IceMen on Feb. 28. The puck is scheduled to drop at 8:15 p.m.
“We’ll prepare, we don’t have to do anything there, we just have to execute; if we bring the same game and maybe get a little lucky, then we’re leaving Evansville with two points,” Vitucci said.