Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Quad City's Sam Warning, center, slides to block a shot by Komets forward Travis Ewanyk in the second period Friday at Memorial Coliseum.
Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette The Komets celebrate Shawn Szydlowski’s game-tying goal in the second period of Friday night’s playoff opener at Memorial Coliseum.
Saturday, April 15, 2017 1:00 am
Komets 4, Quad City 3
Comeback needed in Game 1
Despite huge edge in shots, K's rally from 2-goal deficit to win
JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette
Komets vs. Quad City Mallards
Central Division semifinals
Komets lead 1-0
Game 1: Komets 4, Quad City 3
Game 2: 7:30 p.m. today at Memorial Coliseum
Game 3: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Quad City
Game 4: 8 p.m. Friday at Quad City
Game 5: 8 p.m. April 22 at Quad City*
Game 6: 7:30 p.m. April 24 at Coliseum*
Game 7: 7:30 p.m. April 26 at Coliseum*
The players on the bench were clamoring for Gabriel Desjardins to attack.
That's what he did.
After Garrett Thompson had chipped him a pass behind the Quad City Mallards' net, Desjardins skated out and stuffed the puck between the legs of goaltender C.J. Motte to cement a 4-3 comeback victory for the Komets in the opening game of a best-of-seven playoff series.
“I don't know if he heard us but he definitely listened, and it was a great play by him to stuff a greasy goal between the 5-hole,” captain Jamie Schaafsma said. “That's how you're going to score during the playoffs. You've got to get to get pucks to the net and you've got to work hard down low.”
Desjardins, who also had an assist, has six goals and 10 points in his last 12 games for the Komets, the second-seeded team in the division, who outshot the third-seeded Mallards 37-13 but still needed to overcome a two-goal second-period deficit.
“All that shift, we worked really hard. We were grinding behind the net and it ended up in there for us,” said Desjardins' whose goal came with 7:03 remaining in front of 5,739 fans.
“I just got a great pass from (Thompson) behind the net. I just saw the opportunity to put the puck to the net. I think that's one of the main things we have to do. That goalie is really good playing the puck, so I have to just put the puck to the net and it ended up in.”
It was the 10th time this season the Komets have rallied from two or more goals down to win, something they hope won't be necessary in today's 7:30 p.m. Game 2 at Memorial Coliseum, and they needed to outshoot the Mallards 22-5 in the final two periods to make it happen.
“It's your first game, home ice, and all of a sudden you're down 3-1. It seems like you're playing all right but you're down 3-1 and that can really play with your mind,” Komets coach Gary Graham said. “I thought the guys did a tremendous job of just battling through it. I think perseverance is a big thing with this group. We just stuck with the process. We keep talking about the process, that there are going to be some ups and downs, but as long as we keep trusting each other and keep doing what we're doing, we'll find a way.”
After Quad City's Alex Petan and Grand Arnold opened the scoring, Fort Wayne rookie Mike Cazzola, who was selected MVP by his teammates last week, netted a crucial goal with 16 seconds left in the first period. The puck had caromed off the boards behind the net and onto his stick for an 8-foot shot. Cazzola has seven goals and 13 points in his last eight games.
The Mallards took a 3-1 lead when a tic-tac-toe passing play culminated with Michael Parks' shot from the left circle 2:35 into the second period. But the Komets, who had 17 of the second period's 19 shots, got a Travis Ewanyk goal at 13:22 when he redirected Desjardins' desperation shot from the blue line.
Fort Wayne's Shawn Szydlowski tied it on a 42-foot blast during a power play at 15:25, essential since the Mallards are 23-0-0 when leading after two periods but only 12-8-2 when tied.
Despite the Szydlowski goal, the Komets were only 1 of 6 on power plays, totaling 11 shots. That included two shots during a four-minute-long third-period power play, resulting from Petan's high stick to the face of Will Weber, who bled all over the ice.