The Komets' offense is explosive and it showed Friday in a 5-3 victory over the Indy Fuel, as Fort Wayne scored five unanswered goals during the third period in front of 8,567 fans at Memorial Coliseum.
“There were no excuses. We just found a way to kick our own ass and get into gear,” said coach Ben Boudreau after Komets (23-19-8) won back-to-back games for the first time since the first week of January to move to one point back of the Fuel for third place in the division.
Just when it seemed the Komets were headed for their first shutout loss at the Coliseum since Feb. 24, 2013, when Wheeling's Peter Delmas did it with 44 saves, Olivier Galipeau netted a shot from between the circles 7:37 into the third period.
Max Gottlieb scored 43 seconds later from just inside the blue line. And Gottlieb's pass set up Shawn Szydlowski for a slap shot from the left circle to tie it at 3 during a power play at 10:32.
Anthony Petruzzelli's swivel for a shot from a tough angle, deep in the left circle, put Fort Wayne up 4-3 at 13:21, and Chaz Reddekopp added an empty-netter.
“We kind of peppered their goalie during the first two periods,” Gottlieb said. “We had 30 shots after two periods. We just stuck with it and ultimately got rewarded. We crashed the net in the third and that was the message (during intermission): get to the net, create traffic. We ended up getting goals on that and it's good.”
The Komets feel that if they can clean up their penchant for turnovers and defensive lapses, they'll be a factor down the stretch.
Indy's Bobby MacIntyre scored at the end of a 2-on-0 rush, after Fort Wayne turned the puck over in the offensive zone. A turnover by Galipeau, just outside his own zone, set up Indy's Derian Plouffe for a goal off a redirection at the end of a 3-on-1 rush. Another turnover along the wall put Spencer Watson on the path for a goal from the right circle and a 3-0 Indy lead.
“We made three mistakes tonight that cost us three goals,” Boudreau said. “It was a deflating feeling because there weren't a lot of things going right. I thought we were playing a good game, they just made us pay for every mistake. And they were all three on turnovers. With that being said, I loved the leadership from our guys. We play with a bigger swagger when we have a (leading-scorer) Brady Shaw back in the lineup. We play well when we have a healthy team going.”
Many in the Fort Wayne locker room credited Will Petschenig for getting the rally started by fighting Craig Wyszomirski.
Dylan Ferguson stopped 18 shots for Fort Wayne. For Indy (26-20-3), Dan Bakala stopped 41.
Jason Binkley, who had been an alternate captain, left the Komets earlier in the day to finish the season in England with the Nottingham Panthers. He was the second defenseman within a week to bolt for overseas, joining Taylor Doherty.
Binkley had three goals and 17 points in 38 games in his fourth season with the Komets. He'd also played four games with Cleveland of the higher-level American Hockey League, tallying an assist.