They came to Sunday night with a .500 record and the league’s sixth-worst penalty kill, so logic dictated that the former wasn’t going to get better for the Fort Wayne Komets if the latter came under a whole lot of scrutiny.
Welcome to scrutiny.
Welcome to not one, not two, but six Quad City Mallard power plays, and if the Komets stood up under that for a while – they killed the first four – eventually they buckled. John Snowden broke the ice for the Mallards with two goals in the last five minutes of the second period, Jared Brown scored another not quite four minutes into the third, and the visitors put 44 shots on Komets goaltender Nick Boucher to skate off with a 3-2 win in front of 6,019 at Memorial Coliseum.
Compounding all of the above, everyone agreed, was the Komets’ inability to put enough shots on Quad City goaltender David McKee, who came in giving up almost four goals per outing.
“This is a guy who’s been letting in five, six goals a night, so we’ve got to hit the net on our shots,” Komets coach Al Sims said. “Not finishing at the net is killing us. We’ve had chances, but everything just seemed to be out of reach tonight.”
For a while, though, everything seemed to be within reach. Bobby Chaumont blistered a rising shot from the right circle over McKee’s glove five minutes in to stake the Komets to a 1-0 lead, and it stayed that way for a long, occasionally adventurous time thereafter.
“Early in the game we played pretty well,” Kaleigh Schrock said. “The first period, we kind of dictated the game. We had the momentum.
“But, you know, we took a step back halfway through the game, and tried to be too fancy at times, just not getting the puck to the net. And they forced some turnovers and scored one and then they kind of controlled the rest of the game.”
It began on the Mallards’ fifth power play of the night, which turned out to be the charm. With Colin Chaulk serving two minutes for hooking, Boucher turned away a point-blank screamer to the right circle, where Snowden was waiting to bury the rebound and make it 1-1 with just under five minutes to play in the second.
A bit more than two minutes later, Snowden jumped on a loose puck inside the blue line, wheeled toward the middle of the ice and smoked a bullet that eluded Boucher, and Quad City led 2-1.
A shade more than three minutes into the third, the Mallards picked up their sixth power-play opportunity when Schrock went off for tripping, and for the second time Quad City cashed. This time Brown ripped a cross-ice pass just under the crossbar from the right faceoff circle, and the Mallards were up 3-1 and in command.
Frankie DeAngelis got one back for the Komets on a rebound in front at 9:02, but the Komets couldn’t get another past McKee.
“We’re not putting ourselves in a position to win,” Schrock said. “Every chance we get to get a shot on one goal is a chance to get two shots on goal. We’ve got to have guys going to the net.
“And then our special teams… We didn’t look too good on the penalty kill, and our PKers need to do a better job of blocking shots. I know we have the guys in here to do that. We just need to start doing it.”