FORT WAYNE – The Komets were all too familiar with the feeling of letting a game slip away. And that feeling was there again Wednesday night, before center Jean-Michel Rizk’s blast from the left circle evaded goaltender Kent Simpson at 3:05 of overtime for a 5-4 victory over Toledo in front of 5,215 fans at Memorial Coliseum.
It was about time, said Rizk, who had scored only once in the previous 10 games. I was thinking (our line) was due to get one and whether it’s me or somebody else, I don’t care, as long as we get the win. At this point that’s all that matters.
The victory was only the second in the last nine games for the Komets (28-28-2), and it broke an eight-game run in which they failed to score more than three goals.
Still, the Komets were awfully close to coughing it up.
They had a 4-2 third-period lead on goals by defenseman Jamie Milam, forward Brandon Marino (power play), forward Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock and forward Thomas Beauregard.
But Toledo forward Trevor Parkes scored from the left circle at 5:46 of the third period, and Willie Coetzee capitalized on back-to-back penalties by Fort Wayne’s Nick Wheeler to force overtime.
In overtime, Fort Wayne forward Matt Firman had a breakaway but hit the goal post, and defenseman Dan Nycholat was stopped on a 2-on-1 rush.
When Firman missed, I thought, Geez, it was on the inside of the post and went shooting across the goal line. We’ve just got no luck at all,’ Komets coach Al Sims said. Then Rizker goes down, does pretty much the same thing, only this time it does go in off the post. Rizker’s got a deadly shot if you give him time and space.
Fort Wayne is eight points back of South Carolina for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference – with 14 games remaining – and the next two games are in South Carolina on Friday and Saturday.
Playing his fourth straight game since being sent down by Anaheim, goaltender Jeff Deslauriers stopped 31 of 35 shots for the Komets. Simpson stopped 25 of 30 for Toledo (30-19-8).
Our guys had beaten Simpson in Toledo (on Saturday) from the short side off the goal line, Sims said. Marino scored the winning goal that way with three minutes to go. And we scored three goals that way tonight. So obviously there is a leaking problem with Simpson on bad-angle shots and things we throw at his feet.
In the overtime we had some chances and they had one or two. It was a hard-fought battle, and those were two points we desperately needed.
Notes: Komets captain Colin Chaulk assisted on Marino’s goal Wednesday, giving him 1,000 points in his professional career, which began in 1998 with Austin of the Western Professional Hockey League. After missing 16 games – he had been with Bloomington of the CHL – defenseman Jeremy Gates returned to the Fort Wayne lineup. Forward Mike Hoban, who had been out 12 games with a shoulder injury, was also back. The Komets, who had lost five of their previous six games at the Coliseum, released defenseman Michael Jordan, who was scoreless in three games.