Walleye Rally to Earn Point, But Fall to Indy in Shootout
TOLEDO, Ohio - The Toledo Walleye erased a two-goal, third-period deficit to salvage a point on Friday, but the Indy Fuel prevailed in the eventual shootout to escape with a 4-3 decision before a sold-out crowd of 7,544 at the Huntington Center.
Trailing 3-1 entering the final period of regulation, the Walleye (20-10-3-1) were handed a golden opportunity to close the gap when Indy (18-16-1-0) forward Michael Doherty with 14:44 remaining in the frame. On the ensuing man advantage, Brandon Anselmini's one-timer from the right point ricocheted off the stick of Alex Rauter and directly to Shane Berschbach, who roofed a sharp-angle shot from the right goalline into the top right corner for his 109th career goal in a Toledo uniform. Already the franchise leader in games played (351), assists (259) and points (368), Berschbach is now just two goals shy of tying the team record held by Evan Rankin.
Although the Walleye had another power play chance negated when Justin Buzzeo was whistled for roughing with 8:59 to go in the third, the hosts knotted the score at three apiece moments later. After a favorable icing call went Toledo's way, the hosts kept the puck in the offensive zone as Josh Kestner took a centering pass from Berschbach at the left circle and lifted a wrist shot into the top right corner with 5:40 left for his team-best 18th goal of the campaign.
The Walleye survived a 4-on-3 penalty kill during the seven-minute overtime, as Indy struck the right post and Pat Nagle turned way all five shots he faced in the extra session to send the game into a skills competition. However, Alex Krushelnyski and Bobby MacIntyre scored for the Fuel in the opening two rounds, while attempts from Kestner and Buzzeo were turned away by Charles Williams as the Walleye fell in a shootout for the first time since Jan. 26, 2019 versus Rapid City.
Indy drew first blood 3:59 into the contest. Nagle went behind his net to play the puck, but his backhanded pass intended for Anselmini was intercepted by Doherty and quickly centered to Liam Coughlin in front for a shot inside the right post.
The Walleye pulled even courtesy of Marcus Vela's ninth goal of the season later in the opening period. Blake Hillman's effort from the left point was heade toward the near post, but changed direction when it struck the ousstretched stick of Vela and sailed past Williams' catching glove at the 9:05 mark.
The Fuel eventually reclaimed their one-goal edge with 1:37 remaining in the first frame. Alex Rauter ripped a one-timer from the high slot that pinballed off the left skate of Steven Oleksy and the right leg of Berschbach before trickling helplessly past Nagle's left pad.
The Walleye outshot Indy by a 14-6 count during the second stanza, but the Fuel added to their lead with the lone goal of the period. After the visitors forced a turnover in the offensive zone, Sam Kurker sent the puck through the goal mouth to Krushelnyski for a one-timer that squeaked through Nagle and crossed the goalline by an eyelash before Hillman was able to intervene. Interestingly, the Walleye are 1-2-2-1 against the Fuel this season, but hold a 14-2-0-0 record against the rest of the Central Division.
Toledo finished 1-for-4 on the power play and a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill. Williams stopped 38-of-41 shots to collect the win, as Nagle turned aside 24-of-27 in his first appearance with the Walleye since a 5-2 victory over Kalamazoo on Nov. 23, 2019.
The Walleye return to the Huntington Center on Saturday for a 7:15 p.m. rematch against Indy , before wraping up a stretch of three home games in three days on Sunday to face the Wheeling Nailers at 5:15 p.m.
1. Indy - Alex Krushelnyski (goal, assist)
2. Toledo - Shane Berschbach (power play goal, assist)
3. Toledo - Josh Kestner (game-tying goal, assist)
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