The Komets are in search of the perfect 60 minutes.
Actually, just a consistently good 60 minutes would be fine by them.
They defeated the Kalamazoo Wings 5-4 tonight, in front of 6,688 fans at Memorial Coliseum, but they didn’t have a warm and fuzzy feeling after squandering leads of 2-0 and 3-1.
“We didn’t play a full 60 minutes and that’s been the knock on us all year,” coach Ben Boudreau said. “We fail to have that killer instinct. We go up 2-0 after a great first period, and then we take our foot off the gas. We did not generate one 5-on-5 shot in the second period, so the lack of the killer instinct and some of the negativity that set in on the bench is a real big concern.”
Kyle Haas, who has played only two games since returning from a six-game ECHL suspension, could be in the league’s crosshairs again. He engaged in a postgame fight with Kalamazoo’s Ben Wilson, after both teams had gathered for a shoving match near the Wings’ bench.
(Video is above. Some other players could be looked at, too, though Haas and Wilson got the only misconducts from the festivities.)
Drake Rymsha had the decisive goal for the Komets 8:32 into the third period. He snapped a shot from the right circle that caromed off Kalamazoo’s Garret Ross and arced over the glove of goaltender Jake Hildebrand to make it 5-3.
The Wings’ Justin Taylor scored at the end of a 3-on-1 rush at 11:59 to finish the scoring.
With the game tied at 3, Komets captain A.J. Jenks and alternate Shawn Szydlowski helped motivate the team for the third period.
“At that point in the game, it’s a tied hockey game and you’ve got to win that period to win the game,” Jenks said after the game. “In a tight divisional game like that, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to make sure you come out on top. We found a way tonight.”
The Komets (25-20-8), who have won four of their last five games, got 30 saves from Dylan Ferguson and increased their lead over the Indy Fuel to three points for third place in the Central Division. The Komets are five points back of Toledo.
The Komets are 8-3-1 against Kalamazoo (19-25-7), which got 20 saves from Hildebrand.
“It seems to be a trend lately that we don’t want to continue – giving up leads,” said Shaw, who also scored in the third period, after Brett McKenzie slipped him a cross-ice backhand pass, and finished with two goals and three points. “I think we have a resilient group. (We’ve) showed that we can come back. But we have to show that we can play with the lead and not sit back on our heels, and keep attacking.”
The Komets, who scored on 1 of 3 power plays, are 20 of 52 against the Wings this season with the man-advantage.
Brad Morrison was back in the Fort Wayne lineup for the first time since Dec. 1, a span of 31 games in which Fort Wayne went 11-14-6 as he recovered from a high ankle sprain.
Morrison, a fourth-round draft pick of the NHL’s New York Rangers in 2015, is a prospect of the Los Angeles Kings and has five goals and 16 points, including two assists today, in 14 games with Fort Wayne.
The Komets opened the scoring by taking advantage of a Wings turnover in their own zone; Morrison flicked the puck from the blue line to Shaw in the slot for a power-play goal 2:55 into the first period. McKenzie made it 2-0 at 16:06 by polishing off a 2-on-1 rush with a shot from the right circle.
After Kalamazoo’s Tanner Sorenson scored, Fort Wayne’s Mason Bergh netted a short-handed goal by stealing the puck at the offensive blue line, skirting along the right boards, then sending a shot off sliding defenseman Aaron Thow and just inside the crossbar 10:30 into the second period.
The Wings got goals from Austin Farley, off a rebound, and Sorenson, from the left circle during a power play, to tie it at 3 heading into the second intermission. Kalamazoo was 1 for 5 on power plays.
Before the game, the Komets signed defenseman Adam Henry, a 6-foot rookie out of the University of Manitoba. He had 11 goals and 22 points in 28 games this season. He didn’t play tonight.
OTHER THINGS OF NOTE …
-- The Komets are six games into a stretch of 16 straight against divisional opponents.
-- Shaw on the Komets needing to change their mindset: “We’re trying to play more aggressively lately and I think we have a tendency to take our foot off the gas at crucial times during the game. It’s just a mindset that we have to keep going through 60 minutes.”
-- Jenks added: “We’re still looking for that full 60-minute effort, for sure. We’ve got to get rid of these lapses that we’re having, a period at a time or so. We’ve got to make sure we’re sticking to our gameplan and doing the things that make us successful.” He mentioned being “too cute” with the puck as a problem and said the Komets need to limit turnovers.
-- Boudreau on the second-intermission talks by Jenks and Szydlowski: “If it wasn’t for those two guys and the experience they have in the dressing room, this game could have gone south pretty quick.”
-- According to Boudreau, prior to today, the Komets were 1-11 without Brady Shaw in games at the Coliseum. “He’s always on the scoresheet and always finds a way to make an impact play,” Boudreau said.
-- Linesman Marc-Antoine Beaulieu left the game in the second period with a head injury, suffered when the puck hit him. He got stitched up and returned for the third period.
--- What’s up with Will Petschenig? An ankle injury suffered in the fight last weekend. It’s not severe.