RYAN RUPERT'S OVERTIME WINNER CAPS FUEL COMEBACK IN CINCINNATI
CINCINNATI - The Indy Fuel were less than a minute away from starting their four-game road swing with a regulation win. It took them less than a minute beyond regulation to pick up the two points anyway. Ryan Rupert's game-winning goal 31 seconds into overtime completed a 5-4 come-from-behind victory for Indy (17-19-2-1) over the Cincinnati Cyclones (22-15-2-0) Friday night at U.S. Bank Arena. The triumph in extra time gave the Fuel their fourth straight win over the Cyclones to begin the 2017-18 season, pulling to within eight points of Cincinnati for possession of fifth place in the ECHL Central Division standings.
The Fuel rallied from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to seize a 4-3 third period lead, before Cincinnati's Mitch Nylen struck with 42 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. But in the extra session, Rupert took a feed from Nolan Descoteaux and beat Cyclones goaltender Jonas Johansson from the right circle to clinch the critical road victory for Indy. Rupert and Michael Neal each tallied a goal and an assist for the Fuel, while Descoteaux chipped in three assists. Indy now heads to Kalamazoo for a pivotal two-game set with the Wings, starting Saturday night at Wings Event Center.
Entering the game determined to end their three game skid against their Fuel, Cincinnati jumped out to an early 2-0 lead with a pair of quick first-period tallies. Cyclones forward Daniel Muzito-Bagenda picked up the first of his three points Friday at 13:47, when he found Justin Schultz for a one-timer goal from the low slot. Seventy seconds later on a 5-on-3 power play, Muzito-Bagenda doubled the home team's advantage with a goal of his own, hammering a feed from Nylen over the glove of î=89tienne Marcoux.
Indy came to life in the second period, outshooting the Cyclones by a 13-4 margin and ultimately outscoring the opposition 3-1 over the frame. Defenseman Zach Miskovic put the Fuel on the board 6:07 into the middle stanza when he corralled an errant pass and beat Johansson inside the right post. Just over two minutes later, Darian Dziurzynski converted a centering pass from Neal to even the score on the power play.
Each team would cash in one more time with the man advantage before the period came to a close. Cincinnati struck first, reclaiming the lead at the 14:00 mark when Winston Day Chief redirected an Alex Kyle pass behind Marcoux. The Fuel answered right back just 1:27 later, when Neal put back a Josh Shalla rebound to make it 3-3.
Each team scored twice on six chances with the extra man, as the Fuel extended their power play scoring streak to six games. Indy's power play unit entered the weekend ranked second in the ECHL, improving to 21.1% after Friday's game.
After playing the first half of the third period at stalemate, Matt Rupert gave the Fuel their first lead of the night with 7:40 remaining in regulation. The forward gathered a rebound from his twin brother, flinging it behind Johansson from a sharp angle for his eighth goal of the season.
Making his 13th consecutive start for Indy, Marcoux stopped 20 of 24 shots to register his 12th win of the season. Johansson suffered the overtime defeat after making 25 saves on 30 Fuel shots.
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