FORT WAYNE – The supposed nightmare scenario was coming close to fruition. The Komets were getting manhandled by the Colorado Eagles – again – and it was making the possibility of the teams meeting in the first round of the CHL playoffs seem likely.
They still might, but after the final 23 minutes, 28 seconds at Memorial Coliseum, that at least no longer looks like such a terrifying prospect.
Down three goals at the start of the third period, the Komets forced overtime against the Turner Conferences first-place team, even rang the would-be game-winning goal off the crossbar, before losing 7-6 on defenseman Aaron Schneekloths goal at 3:28 of overtime.
Down 5-2, Im sure everybody had written us off and said, This is a dominating performance by Colorado, and theyre showing the Komets who the boss is and whats going on, blah, blah, blah, Fort Wayne coach Al Sims said. Obviously, they showed some cracks and weaknesses, as well.
The Komets and Eagles had met only once, March 11 in Loveland, Colo., with the Eagles winning 6-1, outshooting the Komets 38-22 and chasing goalie Kevin Reiter from the game after he allowed five goals on 24 shots.
They took a 5-2 lead Friday on forward Scott Mays shot from 40 feet out that ricocheted off Reiters glove. Reiter was yanked, having stopped only 16 shots, and he was replaced by Nick Boucher, who stopped 12 of 14.
The Komets offensive barrage began at 3:47 of the third period, when defenseman Dustin Molles shot from the point crept underneath goalie Kyle Jones, and center Colin Chaulk was there to sweep it inside the left post. Twenty-one seconds later, forward Artem Podshendyalovs cross-ice pass set up center Leo Thomas for a goal from the left circle.
Then right wing Derek Patrosso scored with a slap shot from the right circle at 10:02, which was followed by another May goal, during a power play at 12:45.
But the Komets answered just 20 seconds later, when Podshendyalov sent a pass from behind the net to Thomas for a one-timer past Jones, who stopped 34 of 40 shots.
Were trying to get in a playoff environment, a playoff atmosphere, and establish it right now, Patrosso said. Its just a never-give-up attitude, never say never. We thought we took it to them in the first period, too, but we were down 2-0.
We did a lot of good things, then. I think we can play against them.
In overtime, the Komets best chance to win came when defenseman Michael Ratchuk sent a 20-foot shot off the crossbar, with the teams playing 3 on 3. The Eagles recovered the rebound and Schneekloth snuck behind Ratchuk to accept a pass and score for the victory.
Colorado (40-21-4) can clinch the top seed in the conference by defeating the host Komets (30-27-8) tonight. The Komets have a one-point lead over Dayton for seventh place, which would more likely bring a first-round matchup with defending-champion Rapid City or Bloomington.
The Komets are 0-2-0 against Rapid City, 3-7-0 against Bloomington.