The Quad City Mallards scored early Saturday, but the Toledo Walleye scored often.
After the Mallards went to an early lead, the Walleye rallied to take a 4-2 win before 8,165 fans at the Huntington Center.
Toledo’s win came one night after the team clinched their fourth consecutive playoff berth. They are now after their second consecutive Central Division title and can reach 90 points in Sunday’s home game against the Indy Fuel.
“We turn our next focus, our next goal on the division,” Walleye coach Dan Watson said. “We had goal No. 1 was become a team as fast as we could; we did that. Our next goal was to get to the playoffs; we checked that box. The next one is division. We haven’t talked about it all year, and we finally can. We got that X.”
VIDEO: Walleye 4, Mallards 2
Toledo Walleye defender Ryan Obuchowski (14) scored his fifth goal of the season in the 4-2 win over Quad City on Saturday.
BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge
Alex Globke tallied for the Mallards to start the scoring 5 minutes, 26 seconds into the game, putting home an unassisted goal in front of Toledo goalie Pat Nagle after defenseman Parker Reno lost his stick. It was the first goal scored by Quad City in three games in Toledo this season.
But that lead was short-lived, as Kyle Bonis slapped a shot through Quad City goalie Eric Hartzell more than five minutes later to give Toledo a 1-1 tie, with assists going to Mike Borkowski and Simon Denis. Then 36 seconds later, Kevin Gibson gave the Walleye the lead at 2-1 on his third goal of the season, on assists from Borkowski and Mike Embach.
“We are certainly a really deep team, but it’s fun when guys like Gibby get a goal,” Bonis said. “He does so many things that maybe go a little bit unnoticed. When he gets rewarded with a goal like that, it’s exciting and it picks everybody up.”
Walleye defenseman Ryan Obuchowski scored with 37 seconds left in the first, taking the puck over center ice and working his way from left to right; Colin Jacobs and Tyler Barnes assisted. It was his fifth goal of the season.
That 3-1 Walleye lead would last through a scoreless second.
“I don’t think [Friday] night is indicative of how close these two teams are,” Bonis said of the Walleye’s 8-0 win the previous game. “... No team likes to get beat like that. We knew they would probably come out and play a game more of the way they wanted to.”
Quad City cut into the lead 17:36 into the third, when Greg Amlong tallied his third goal of the season for a 3-2 Walleye lead. But Tyler Barnes got the goal back on an empty netter with 15.9 seconds remaining in the regulation.
The Walleye had 15 shots on goal in the first and managed 20 in the final two periods. The Mallards put 34 shots on goal.
“We coughed the puck up way too much,” Watson said. “We didn’t have enough puck support all over the ice tonight. We’ve talked about letting the puck do the work. We skated too much and didn’t make the easy first pass and get it up the ice, which slowed the game down.”
Nagle made 32 saves, giving him 1,020 on the season. He also won his ECHL-leading 30th game, the most he’s won in a single season. Nagle also is unbeaten in regulation in 14 consecutive games, breaking the previous Walleye record set by Jeff Lerg in 2014.
“It was another great performance, and I thought again he was the difference,” Watson said. “He’s a competitor, he’s a gamer. He wants to win, he loves to win, he’ll do whatever it takes.”
The sellout crowd was Toledo’s 23rd of the season and 127th all time.
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