The Komets began Friday night’s game healthier than they had been all season, maybe even in years.
Not a single player was on injured reserve.
By the end of the night, goaltender Nick Boucher had tweaked his groin, on his own bobblehead night no less, and playoff MVP David Hukalo had suffered a concussion and left his blood staining the ice.
The Komets still found a way to win. Defenseman Bobby Phillips’ slapshot from the right circle, his first in the professional ranks, forced overtime and the Komets eventually defeated the Bloomington PrairieThunder 3-2 in a shootout in front of 7,632 fans at Memorial Coliseum.
Center Colin Chaulk’s goal, the Komets’ third in the shootout, was the difference maker. He skated down the right side and snapped a shot into the far side of the net against goaltender Paulo Colaiacovo.
I don’t know how the defensemen feel, but it’s tough as forwards when you’re not playing with the right guys, Chaulk said the injuries this season. There are a few guys, me being one of them, who have particular tendencies and ways of doing things. When you start having to think about what (someone else might do), you start not moving your feet and start looking. People say, He’s thinking. He’s not skating. He’s not reacting.’ And it’s because you don’t really know what to do.
Bloomington defenseman Matthew Spiller opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 4:40 of the first period, when his shot from just inside the blue line sailed above Boucher’s outstretched glove. Boucher stopped 8 of 9 shots but didn’t return for the second period.
Hukalo’s injury also came in the first period, when he lost an edge and came crashing to the ice as he collided with the skate of defenseman Cole Ruwe. Neither Boucher nor Hukalo will play tonight against Muskegon or Sunday at Dayton, coach Al Sims said.
Boucher’s replacement, Tim Haun, was beaten on the first shot he faced, a breakaway by forward Craig MacDonald, who rifled the puck underneath the crossbar.
The Komets hit the posts several times in the game, but they finally found success at 4:51 of the second period, when Chaulk scored on a rebound of a Guy Dupuis shot during a power play. Chaulk, who missed the previous four games because of a death in the family, has tallied a point in six straight games played.
Haun stopped 16 of 17 shots, including a glove save on a MacDonald breakaway during overtime, and he turned away 2 of 4 shootout attempts.
It’s very difficult to come into the game in that situation, Sims said, when you don’t think you’re playing all day, and then a period goes by in which you don’t think you’re playing. Then all of a sudden, coach says you’re going in, and I thought (Haun) did a real good job, especially in the third period to keep them to two goals.
Colaiacovo stopped 35 shots and 1 of 4 shootout attempts.