If the Komets are feeling any urgency to get the No. 3 seed in the Central Division playoffs – or even to guarantee they make the postseason at all – they aren’t showing it.
Despite a raucous crowd of 9,089 being on hand at Memorial Coliseum for Princess Night, the Komets lost 5-2 to the Kansas City Mavericks, who had lost their previous seven games – the longest streak in the league coming into the day.
The Mavericks, who got 33 saves from Mason McDonald, could clinch a playoff spot if Wichita loses later tonight to Allen.
Kansas City scored on 2 of 5 power plays. Fort Wayne was 2 for 3.
The Komets' lead over the Kalamazoo Wings is down to one point after the Wings defeated second-place Toledo 3-0 in Ohio. Fifth-place Indy is six points back of Fort Wayne.
The Komets’ loss came one night after they squandered a three-goal lead in a 6-4 loss to the Wheeling Nailers at Wheeling, West Virginia. The Nailers, who are in sixth place in the division, are now seven points back of Fort Wayne, which has four games left in the regular season.
Since sweeping a pair of games at Brampton, Ontario, on March 16 and 17, the Komets are 2-4-1.
(Video highlights from tonight are above.)
An end-to-end first period saw great goaltending by both teams. Fort Wayne’s Alex Dubeau thwarted a Darian Dziurzynski shot from point-blank range as Phelix Martineau served a double-minor penalty for high-sticking David Dziurzynski, who left a trail of blood on the ice. And Kansas City’s McDonald foiled close-range shots from Anthony Nellis and Brady Shaw in the closing seconds of the scoreless period.
A costly mistake by Dubeau led to the game’s first goal 1:03 into the second period, when Greg Betzold intercepted the netminder’s risky pass straight up the middle of the ice and snapped a low shot into the net.
Dubeau atoned late in the second period with a stop on Corey Durocher, who was stationed just outside the crease during a power play. But after the ensuing faceoff, Rocco Carzo scored on a one-timer from the slot for a 2-0 lead Mavericks lead.
The Komets’ Jake Kamrass answered at 17:22 by smacking in the rebound of a Josh Elmes blue-line shot, as Kansas City’s Brayden Sherbinin was serving a holding penalty.
The slew of power-play goals continued and Kansas City took a 3-1 lead when Jared VanWormer scored on a low shot from the right circle, as Mason Baptista was in the box for high-sticking.
Fort Wayne's Nellis scored a power-play goal from the left circle at 18:04, after Denver Pierce got a penalty for delay of game for covering the puck, but two empty-net goals followed for Kansas City.
Dubeau stopped 21 of 24 shots.
Notes: Before the game, the Komets added defenseman Cam Knight, 24, a rookie fresh from Alabama-Huntsville, who had two goals and 10 points in 37 games this season. The Komets have a slew of injuries: J.C. Campagna (hip), Craig Cescon (ankle), Cody Sol (ankle), Chase Stewart (ankle), Reid Jackman and Gage Torrel. … The Toledo Walleye added Jeff Lerg, one of the best goalies in franchise history, to the roster as an emergency backup with Kaden Fulcher called to Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League.