MOLINE, IL – The Quad City Mallards returned to their usual home form today, complete with lackadaisical penalty kill and uninspired powerplay units, to lose 3-1 to the Indy Fuel. Before the game, forward J.T. Osborn was released from his amateur try-out agreement after playing two games for the Mallards on Friday and Saturday.
The inflatable duck head arch was returned to the Marsh today, welcoming the Mallards players to the ice for the first time in at least two months. Jordan Knackstedt gave Mallards fans hope for another win when hescored just over three minutes into the game with help from Olivier Archambault and Vladimir Nikiforov.
An air of expectancy was soon squelched after a lackluster powerplay by the Mallards in which they left their defensive zone only a single time.
Early in the second period, P.J. Musico had a misplay that resulted in a goal. Musico played the puck behind the net but was unable to return to his crease before Dylan Clarke found the puck and then found twine at the back of the net.
Seven minutes later the Fuel scored a powerplay goal as Tanner Eberle was in the box for interference. Ben Marshall scored the goal to put the Fuel ahead, Daniel Ciampini and Cody Sharib assisting. Even after seeing an effective powerplay in action, the Mallards were unable to capitalize when the Fuel were unable to count and had a seventh man on the ice.
Matt S. White scored in the last minute of the middle frame with help from Anders Franzon and Sharib.
The Mallards have shown that they’re a better road team than a home team. They had played well in the first period while on even strength, but when they returned from the locker room after first intermission they realized they were at home and lost motivation.
During the third period the Mallards seemed content to chip and chase the game clock down. They had 16 shots on net during the third period, but none were of high quality.
The loss, combined with a Tulsa win, meant the lead for the Mallards for the last playoff spot is down to one point. The Oilers also have two games in hand on the Mallards, making each game the rest of the way that much bigger.
The Mallards return to action on Good Friday against Midwest Division basement dweller the Evansville Icemen at 7:05. Chicago-based anthem singer Jim Cornelison will be singing the Star Spangled Banner that night at the Marsh.