FORT WAYNE – The Komets must be the hardest team to predict in the CHL.
Just when it seemed they were sliding out of relevance, losing four of five while being outscored 24-10 along the way, the Komets came back with a dominating performance Sunday and defeated the Evansville IceMen 5-1 at Memorial Coliseum.
It seems like everything depends on which kind of start we have, center Mathieu Curadeau said. If we get behind the other team right off the bat, we start having trouble. Tonight, we came out really strong, had a goal on the first shift, and after that were tough to beat.
The Komets (27-23-6) and Dayton remained tied for seventh place in the Turner Conference with 60 points, two points back of Wichita.
The Komets have 10 games remaining before the playoffs. League-worst Evansville (18-30-10) is 14 points behind a playoff spot.
A crowd of 7,189 looked on, as seemingly every carom went in the Komets favor, and Curadeau and Tab Lardner broke out of their scoring slumps with two goals apiece. Curadeau had one point in his previous six games; Lardner had one point in his last four.
The Komets, who lost 16 of their first 21 games then won 20 of 29, had lost two of their last three games against the IceMen dating back to Feb. 26. That was when a Jeff Christian elbow gave Fort Waynes lone all-star, defenseman Frankie DeAngelis, a concussion from which he still hasnt recovered.
On Saturday in Evansville, the Komets lost 2-1 in overtime, thanks to a Brian Bicek goal.
We both got in to Fort Wayne at 5:30 (a.m.), so neither team had an advantage tiredness-wise tonight, Komets coach Al Sims said. Both teams played Friday and Saturday. We had played really well in their building Saturday; it was probably one of our best road games in the last half of the season. We held them to (20) shots, but the puck wasnt going in for us. Tonight, we got to (goalie Matt) Lundin early and often, so it was a big win for us.
Fort Wayne scored on its first shot 51 seconds in, at the end of a 3-on-1 rush. The tic-tac-toe passing play started with Artem Podshendyalov to Danny Lapointe and finished with Curadeaus goal in the top of the net.
Lardner got to his own rebound and sent a shot above the sprawled Lundin at 4:20. Curadeau made it 3-0 at 19:43, when his shot from a spot parallel to the goal ricocheted off the stick of Evansville defenseman Mario Larocque and sailed past Lundin.
In the second period, Lardner wound up behind the net after streaking down the ice, but he sent a shot off the mask of a diving Lundin and into the net at 6:52. Defenseman Guy Dupuis scored 1:20 later from the right circle for a 5-0 lead.
Larocque scored from 20 feet out – Christian set him up with a pass from behind the Fort Wayne net – to end the hopes of a shutout at 19:17 of the second period.