FORT WAYNE, IN – The Quad City Mallards pulled out a dramatic win over the Fort Wayne Komets in overtime on Saturday. It was the Mallards’ fourth straight win and fifth in their last six games. Every win is crucial in the playoff race, but road wins against teams ahead in the standings may be even more important.
P.J. Musico has been in net for all four games of this winning streak. He has been spectacular for the Mallards in this stretch. During this four game streak he has a 0.944 save percentage and is allowing 1.75 goals per game. Saturday he allowed three goals, which is the most over this stretch, but he also made several excellent saves in this game as well.
The Mallards got on the scoreboard first when Tanner Eberle broke in from the right side and beat Komets’ goaltender Pat Nagle high. Anthony Collins got the only assist on that goal. Collins would get another assist five minutes later on another goal by Eberle. This time Darren McMillan got the primary assist. The period was very even in terms of scoring chances but Musico made a couple great saves to hold the Komets scoreless. The Mallards led 2-0 at the first intermission.
The Komets dominated the second period. They finally got a shot past Musico at the 6:32 mark of the period. Jordon Southorn took a shot from near the blue line. It appeared Musico was screened and didn’t see the puck. Seconds later, the Komets won the ensuing faceoff and Jamie Schaafsma scored to tie the game 2-2. The Mallards regained their composure and got some offense going. At the 8:27 mark, Darren McMillan put the Mallards back ahead 3-2. Olivier Archambault set up the goal. He skated the puck from the corner and past a defenseman and got a shot off that Nagle stopped, but McMillan was there for the rebound.
At the 11:19 mark, Shawn Szydlowski was called for slashing. Five seconds later Alex Gudbranson was also called for slashing. The two teams played end-to-end during the four on four time. Szydlowski got out of the penalty box and was sprung on a breakaway. He beat Musico to tie the game back up 3-3.
The Mallards recovered from that shaky second period and played a great third period. They held the Komets to just three shots while they pushed for the game-winner. Early in the third period, Archambault got free in the slot and took a shot that hit the crossbar. Around the 8:00 mark, Austin Coldwell set up Jordan Knackstedt with a pass right in front of the net. Knackstedt redirected it on net but Nagle made a great glove save.
The game headed to overtime tied 3-3. Early in the overtime the Kyle Thomas got a couple great scoring chances but Musico again turned them away. Zach Pochiro set up the winning goal. He got behind the net and Nagle was leaning to that side. Pochiro passed the puck from behind the net to Coldwell who was wide open in the crease for the winning shot.
The Tulsa Oilers beat the Allen Americans in a shootout Saturday. So the Mallards’ lead over the Oilers for the last playoff spot is still three standings points, but the Oilers have two games in hand. The Colorado Eagles lost in overtime on Saturday. They lead the Mallards by two points for the seventh seed, but the Mallards have one game in hand. Next, the Mallards play the Indy Fuel Sunday at the i-Wireless Center. The Oilers play the Americans in Allen on Sunday.