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That's a goaltending duel

The Komets lost 1-0 to the Wheeling Nailers, who got 44 saves from Peter Delmas. Jeff Deslauriers had 28 saves for Fort Wayne. From Feb. 24, 2013. By Justin A. Cohn

Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Komet Brett Smith has a point-blank shot on Wheeling goaltender Peter Delmas but can’t score in the first period Sunday. The Komets have scored 12 goals over the past eight games.

Despite woes, K’s confident

Komets outshoot Nailers 44-29 but can’t get puck past goaltender

You may not still believe. And you are certainly justified.

The Komets have lost 7 of 8 games with an unproductive offense. And they’ve fallen eight points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and won only 11 of 27 games at Memorial Coliseum.

But the Komets believe there’s still something in their locker room, a playoff team, even if it’s one that has woefully underperformed after winning four championships in five years and boasting its mantra, “It’s all Double-A hockey,” before joining the ECHL last summer.

On Sunday, the loss was particularly frustrating for the Komets because they dominated the Wheeling Nailers for almost the entire game, yet lost 1-0, in front of 7,958 fans at Memorial Coliseum.

“We certainly still expect to make the playoffs. We expect to make a push. We’ve just got to get some goals in the net and string together some wins,” said forward Eric Giosa, after the Komets outshot the Nailers 44-29 but were repeatedly thwarted by goaltender Peter Delmas.

The final three penalties of the game, all in the final 6:14, were assessed to the Komets by referee Andy Thackaberry. And it set up forward Paul Crowder’s game-winning goal with 3:33 remaining, though a failed clearing attempt by the Komets didn’t help matters.

The Nailers (23-22-9) were 1 for 5 on power plays. The Komets (27-28-2) were 0 for 2.

“When you play that well and then take those penalties, it’s just frustrating,” Komets defenseman Ryan Hegarty said. “We felt like we played so well. And after a streak like this with a lot of losses, you stop looking at the results and you just want to play well and as a team and for each other. We come out and dominate them in the first two periods, and then we handled them in the third before penalties caught up to us.”

The Komets had 23 of the game’s first 25 shots.

But they have totaled only 12 goals over the past eight games, the only victory coming Saturday at Toledo, where they defeated the Walleye 3-1.

“This was just a microcosm of the whole season,” Fort Wayne coach Al Sims said. “We haven’t been able to score much all year and tonight, Delmas, we either made him look good, or he played unbelievable. It doesn’t matter which. The fact of the matter is we couldn’t get a goal despite 44 shots.”

Time is running out; the Komets have only 15 games to get back into the playoff race. The trade deadline is March 7, but the Komets believe Sunday showed they have the personnel that can get it done – they just need fewer penalties and more killer instinct around the net.

“We’re doing a really good job of getting shots to the net and getting really good chances, off of the way we like to play and we should play, and that’s helped the last few games,” Hegarty said. “If we continue to do that, we’ll win some games and score a lot of goals.”

Former NHL goaltender Jeff Deslauriers stopped 28 of 29 shots for the Komets. Since being sent to Fort Wayne from Anaheim of the NHL, he has gone 2-1-0 and stopped 95.5 percent of the shots he has faced.

“He should be (ECHL) Goaltender of the Week; he deserves it,” said Sims, whose annoyance with the losing is evident. “We’re generating offense but not finishing. It’s frustrating for the team and for me, obviously. … When you’re getting opportunities and getting offense, it’s tough to change.”