FORT WAYNE – The Komets were quick to put Thursday’s controversial 3-2 double-overtime loss to the Cincinnati Cyclones behind them and concentrate on tonight’s Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
It’s disappointing, but we’ve got to flush it down the toilet, have a short-term memory and get ready for Saturday, Komets coach Gary Graham said.
The Komets trail the best-of-seven series 2-1, thanks to forward Josh Shalla’s game-winning, power-play goal Thursday at Memorial Coliseum.
The goal came after a penalty for delay of game because Shawn Szydlowski lifted the puck out of play.
The Komets claimed the puck exited through the bench, which should have negated the penalty, and it took a two-minute conference of the referee and linesmen to determine the call.
Regardless of whether the right call was made, the Komets admitted they had no one to blame but themselves for the loss because they fell behind by two goals.
We came out and played right into their hands in the first two periods and the score reflected that, forward Chris Auger said. When we started to move our feet, and transition and catch them on their heels, we had a lot of success. We want to establish that a lot earlier Saturday night and have a lot more success.
The Komets were outshot 23-17 in the first two periods, during which the Cyclones got goals from Shalla and Zach Budish.
The Komets played more aggressive in the third, and they were more careful with the puck in their own zone. They had 20 of 23 shots in the third and goals from Szydlowski and Mike Embach.
They controlled most of the play in overtime, too, before the Cyclones improved their playoff road record to 4-0, and the Komets were dealt their first home loss in four games.
The adversity, you’re on home ice, and obviously we were flat the first two periods, Graham said.
To come out, play the way that they did in the third period, I was extremely proud of the resiliency (our players) showed and the bounce-back because we weren’t good in the first two periods. I like that fact. I like that our conditioning stood out to me in overtime. We were the better team in overtime with the chances.
Shalla has four of the Cyclones’ nine goals in the series. Rob Madore has stopped 94.7 percent of the shots he’s faced, and Fort Wayne’s Ben Meisner has stopped 91.2 percent.
We just got after them more, started skating, made simple plays (after the second period), Fort Wayne forward Scott Fleming said.
Sometimes, we had been too fancy earlier in the game. We started winning more battles and that’s the key right now. Sometimes, when we’re not playing too well, we’re losing battles and getting hemmed in our end.
The Komets have faced a lot of adversity this season. They made a franchise-record 12 trades, used a record nine goalies and squeaked into the playoffs before ousting defending champion Reading in the first round.
They aren’t frazzled despite being two losses from elimination with games tonight and Sunday at the Coliseum.
Your focus is always on the next game, Graham said. I don’t think we’re worried. We’ve been in a desperate mode for a long time. It’s just another game in front of us, an important one, and I expect the guys to get ready to go for it.