The Toledo Walleye hosted the Quad City Mallards on Sunday in the first-ever meeting between the two teams. It was an entertaining and well-played game, but the Walleye came out with a hard-fought 3-2 overtime win. The slumping Mallards have now lost their last six games and have scored two or fewer goals in regulation in eight of their last nine games.
The Mallards fell behind early on a power play goal by Shane Berschbach. The Walleye built on their lead when Scott Czarnowczan scored about six minutes later. The goal may have been a bit of bad luck as it appeared the puck deflected off of Jake Baker and into the net. Despite trailing 2-0, the Mallards played a pretty decent first period. They created several good scoring chances and out-shot the Walleye 11-9.
The Mallards played a smothering defense in the second period, and held the Walleye to just three shots on goal. This was probably the best period of hockey of the entire road trip for the Mallards. Despite controlling play, the Mallards did not get on the scoreboard until 14:39 into the period, when Brady Brassart beat Walleye goalie Jeff Paterson. Alex Gudbranson set up the goal with a nice pass. Just over two minutes later Austin Coldwell took a shot from the point that appeared to deflect off a Walleye defenseman and into the net to tie the game at two.
The two teams skated through an exciting but scoreless third period. Both teams had some chances but Paterson and Mallards’ goalie Steve Michalek made some great saves. It took less than a minute of overtime to determine the winner. The Walleye won on a goal by A.J. Jenks 54 seconds into overtime. It came on a turnover by the Mallards which is unfortunate because they made so few mistakes in this game.
This may have been the Mallards’ best game of the road trip. For the whole game, they outshot the Walleye 31-20. This was a game more like we were accustomed to seeing them play earlier in the season. Maybe this is a game they will be able to build on and finally put this slump behind them.
- Steve Michalek was returned from the AHL just today after appearing in one game for the Iowa Wild. He made quite an impression with the Wild. He stopped 32 of 33 shots to help them win their 13th game of the season, and he also won a goalie fight in the second period.
- While the recent slump by the Mallards certainly has looked bad, they have not played well on the road all season. With this 0-3-2-0 road trip, the Mallards dropped to 6-12-2-2 on the road. They are 13-7-1-0 at home.
- In their last 20 games, the Mallards are 6-12-2-0. During that time they are averaging only 2.35 goals per game. Scoring was a problem even prior to this stretch when they were averaging 2.82 goals per game. There could be players returning from injury that might help the offense but I have to wonder if Coach Ruskowski doesn’t finally make some roster changes.
- Next the Mallards face the Rapid City Rush on Wednesday and Friday at the iWireless Center. The two teams last met on December 11 and 12 in Rapid City. The Rush won the first game 5-2 and the Mallards won the second game 2-1.