Larsson Shines as Walleye Drop Defensive Struggle to Cyclones
CINCINNATI - Filip Larsson stopped all but one of the 29 shots he faced on Saturday, but the Toledo Walleye were left frustrated as Cincinnati Cyclones goaltender Michael Houser recorded his second shutout in as many nights in a 1-0 decision at the Heritage Bank Center.
The Walleye (35-17-4-1) had their run of four consecutive road victories halted by Houser, who was a perfect 24-for-24 between the pipes one night after turning away 23 shots in a 3-0 win versus Fort Wayne. Incidentally, Cincinnati (38-16-7-1) was responsible for Toledo's most recent 1-0 defeat, when Anthony Peters used 18 saves to outduel Matej Machovsky inside the same venue on Nov. 22, 2017.
Aided by three power play chances, the Walleye recorded eight of the final 10 shots of a scoreless opening period. However, the hosts regained their form early in the middle stanza and eventually netted the deciding goal at the 12:07 mark of the frame. Frank Hora gained possession near the right side of the Toledo net and circled behind the cage before centering the puck to Jesse Schultz, who placed a wrist shot from the lower rim of the left circle into the top right corner for his team-high 25th goal of the season.
Toledo struggled to generate shots on goal for much of the final stanza, but looked to rally after calling its timeout and yanking Larsson for the extra skater with 1:14 left in regulation. But once again, Houser and the Cincinnati defense were equal to every challenge to preserve a one-goal outcome, meaning the Walleye now sit nine points behind the Cyclones with five games in hand.
In all, the Walleye finished 0-for-4 on the man advantage, while Cincinnati failed to score on a pair of opportunities.
The Walleye willl conclude a stretch of three road games in three days on Sunday afternoon when they travel to West Michigan to battle the Kalamazoo Wings. Puck drop from Wings Event Center is set for 3 p.m. EDT.
1. Cincinnati - Michael Houser (SO, 24 saves)
2. Cincinnati - Jesse Schultz (game-winning goal)
3. Toledo - Filip Larsson (L, 28 saves)
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