It was a bitter end for the Mallards but Game 7 did not disappoint from a drama standpoint. The Rush dominated play through two periods, outshooting the Mallards 18-6. Parker Milner stopped all 18 shots including a spectacular one to rob a wraparound attempt. Battochio at the other end did not get tested much, but a few of the chances Mallards did have were excellent, and he stopped all of them. The Rush finally took a 1-0 lead early in the 3rd period on a goal by Cody Ferriero. This sparked the Mallards and they finally got some offense going. During this time referee Peter Tarnaris waved off a Mallards goal, and called Logan Nelson for cross-checking on the play. Fairly poor timing for the only penalty the Mallards had all game, to say the least. After more end to end action, the Mallards finally beat Battocio on a goal by Justin Fox on a beautiful pass by Michael Clarke with just 1:32 left. The Rush scored 29 seconds later on another goal by Ferriero, this time tipping a shot past a screened Milner. The Mallards pulled Milner and had a couple chances but were unable to tie the game.
The Mallards should take pride in taking a very hot Rush team to the last minute of Game 7 on their ice. The four games the Mallards lost were all by one goal. They could not get a break to go their way all series. The Mallards nearly pulled this out with a lot of roster turnover, again. It was a theme all season and never really ended in the playoffs. Mario Lamoureux only played in three of the games, He missed two games due to an AHL callup and two due to injury. Then Benjamin Dieude-Fauvel also left after Game 2 to play for the French national team. Pierce Eviston was suspended for Game 7. Liam Stewart was hurt in Game 2 and did not play again all series. You can’t point at one of these things and blame a loss on it, but they did raise the difficulty level.
I wrote back in my series preview that Logan Nelson would be a key player in this series. He was the Mallards hottest scorer before he got hurt in the regular season. He was not able to ever get going in this series. It may have been too much to expect him to come back and provide a lot of scoring after such a long layoff, and while making his playoff debut against a tough defensive team like the Rush.
Hopefully this was a good learning experience for the players. So many players were making their playoff debut in this series, not just Nelson. Hopefully they now know what it takes. In the bigger picture, I feel the franchise took another step forward this season. I will be talking more about that and doing a full season recap in the coming days. I have a few things to write about during the offseason, so stay tuned.
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