FORT WAYNE – Mystifying.
That’s the way the Komets put it at this point.
They’re on a 3-9-1 slide, nine points back of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 10 games remaining in the regular season, and they’ve scored only 25 goals over the last 13 games.
“This, by far, is the absolute worst (goal-scoring slump) I’ve seen,” center Brett Smith said, after the Komets lost 6-2 to the Florida Everblades on Saturday night. “And why it is happening, I don’t know. We have goal scorers.
“My point-blank shot in the second period, it hit the goalie’s chest and hit his arm. It ping-ponged in between. Eight times out of 10, that usually goes in. But this year, it’s the two times it doesn’t. I don’t know what it is. We had 33 shots. They weren’t all glorious opportunities, but we had some good ones.”
Coming into the season, the back-to-back games scheduled between the Komets and Everblades looked as if they’d be epic showdowns.
Not so much.
The Everblades, defending champions of the ECHL, outscored the Komets 12-5 at Memorial Coliseum. The Komets (29-30-3) are in 11th place in the conference.
The Everblades (32-20-10) scored three goals on nine shots in the first period. They scored on 3 of 7 power plays and had two short-handed goals.
Forward Matthew Pistilli scored a power-play goal from the left circle at 4:32, and defenseman Tyson Gimblett scored 47 seconds later from the 20 feet out.
The Everblades went up 3-0 on forward Danick Gauthier’s power-play goal at 18:50, after a shot from the blue line got knocked down just in front of Fort Wayne goaltender Jeff Deslauriers, who stopped 25 shots.
Another power-play goal, again from Gauthier, made it 4-0 at 11:54 of the second period. And Gimblett’s short-handed breakaway goal, 38 seconds into the third period, cemented the victory and really got the 8,071 fans booing.
At 6:18, the Komets finally scored when forward Matt Syroczynski put the rebound of a Nick Wheeler shot into the net. After another short-handed goal, by Florida’s Brandon MacLean, Fort Wayne’s Jeremy Gates got a late goal from the left circle.
“We’re just struggling to score,” Komets coach Al Sims said. “We had four golden opportunities in the second period and … we just didn’t finish when we could have done something to give us hope going into the third. It seems like nobody has confidence putting the puck in the net.”
The Komets played without captain/assistant coach Colin Chaulk, who has missed 34 of 62 games this season because of injuries and illnesses.
“His groin is a little sore,” general manager David Franke said. “He came down (Friday) night and his legs got stretched, and then a guy came down on his back and made it worse. He tried to skate this morning but was too sore. Will he play Wednesday (against Evansville)? I don’t know yet; we’ll just have to see.”
Notes: The Komets also played without defenseman Ryan Hegarty (knee), forward Garrett Klotz (ankle) and goalie Marco Cousineau (groin). … Wheeler, normally a defenseman, played at forward. … Deslauriers has started eight straight games since being sent down from Anaheim of the NHL. … Florida has former Komets Brent Henley and Mike Ratchuk, and Pat Knowlton, who was cut during training camp.