The Komets rallied back from one-goal deficits three times Saturday night. They then answered an early goal in the overtime shootout.
Indy Fuel fans must have feared the worst. After all, their team has squandered more than a few points by coughing up late leads to the Komets
This time, the Fuel powered its way to a 4-3 victory in front of 1,975 fans at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis.
The Fuel (34-23-8) desperately needed the victory as it tries to make the Eastern Conference postseason. For Fort Wayne (27-15-5), which clinched a berth in the Western Conference with a 2-1 overtime victory Friday at Indianapolis, getting a point still helped – conference-leading Wichita (40-20-8), which lost 5-2 to Tulsa, has a .647 winning percentage with three games remaining and second-place Fort Wayne is at .628 with four games remaining.
Brandon Hawkins, who had the winning goal Friday, put forth another good game with a goal to tie it at 1, assists on goals by Anthony Nellis and Alan Lyszczarczyk, and a shootout tally.
(Video highlights are above.)
Fort Wayne’s Dylan Ferguson stopped 37 of 40 shots and 3 of 5 shootout attempts. Indy’s Billy Christopoulos stopped 39 of 42 – including a Zach Pochiro breakaway in the end-to-end 3-on-3 overtime – and 4 of 5 shootout attempts.
Jared Thomas netted the winning goal in the fifth round of the shootout.
“Getting to three goals was huge. I think we were averaging 1.4 over the last (five) games, which is obviously not enough to win. So, to see us score three was great,” said Fort Wayne coach Ben Boudreau, whose team is 12-6-2 against Indy with the teams meeting 7:05 p.m. Monday in Indianapolis. “I still think we missed a lot of opportunities – we generated (42) shots – but it’s something that the puck has got to start giving us some puck-luck and going in off the post instead of going off the post and out.”
Lyszczarczyk, who forced overtime with a 42-foot slapshot, said the offense is close to breaking out and showed signs of that Saturday.
"We've been going to the net, putting pucks on the net," he said. "We've been screening the goalie and putting pucks there, so I think that works and we're successful with that."
Indy got goals from Terry Broadhurst, Spencer Watson and Nick Hutchison. Broadhurst also netted a shot in the first round of the shootout.
“These were two good games for us,” Lyszczarczyk said. “We have three of the four points. We have two comebacks and that’s good for us, doing it two games in a row on the road, so we feel good about that.”
However, the Komets have given up the first goal in nine consecutive games and they’ve gone 3-5-1 in that span.
“So, we’re used to playing catch-up hockey at this point and it’s not the best game plan,” Boudreau said. “It’s something that we’ve had to endure for a few weeks now, so we have to keep at it and play 60 minutes of hockey and keep doing our thing.”
Notes: The Komets were 1 for 4 on power plays. The Fuel was 0 for 5, including failing to score on a 5-on-3 advantage for a second straight night, and failing to score after Matt Murphy took a delay-of-game penalty with 38 seconds left in regulation time . ... There were three fights in the second period: Morgan Adams-Moisan vs. Jordan Schneider; Nick Boka vs. Nic Pierog; and Justin Vaive vs. Hutchison. ... The Komets played without A.J. Jenks, Shawn Szydlowski, Matthew Boudens and Marcus McIvor. … The referee was Nolan Bloyer. … Among Indy’s scratches was Peter Krieger, who was injured when Jenks hit him Friday to set up Hawkins’ game-winning goal at the end of a 2-on-1 rush. … Hawkins and Christopoulos were teammates with Rochester of the higher-level American Hockey League two weeks ago.