CINCINNATI - The Komets lacked the intensity they had in the opening game of the Eastern Conference semifinals. And the Cincinnati Cyclones were determined not to fall in a two-game hole.
The Cyclones defeated the Komets 5-2 tonight at U.S. Bank Arena, sending the best-of-seven series back to Fort Wayne tied at one game apiece.
One thing you don’t want to do is give the Cyclones a lead. They are 37-9 when scoring first in playoff games dating back to 2007, including the Kelly Cup championships they won in 2008 and 2010.
The Komets were one of the few to overcome that dominance, recovering from a one-goal deficit in the 2-1 victory Friday in the series opener, when forward Christin Ouellet scored off a rebound with 7.1 second left at U.S. Bank Arena.
They weren’t as fortunate this time, even if about 400 Komets fans made the 180-mile drive.
After a scoreless first period, the Cyclones began to take control 1:44 into the second period when forward Byron Froese sent a crossing pass to forward Josh Birkholz, who one-timed it into the top of the net.
Forward Josh Shalla made it 2-0 at 5:52 by skating in one-on-one against Chris Auger, then sending a 20-foot wrist shot between the legs of goaltender Ben Meisner.
Komets forward Matt Carter answered at 9:00, breaking in alone on goalie Rob Madore, faking the netminder out of the crease and lifting a backhand into the top of the net.
But the Cyclones battled right back. After a faceoff win by Froese, Shalla sent a shot rocketing into the top of the net at 14:54. And forward Zach Budish redirected in defenseman Taylor Aronson’s shot from the blue line for a power-play goal and a 4-1 lead at 18:59.
The Cyclones outshot the Komets 18-6 in the second period.
The Komets scored at 17:25, with the teams playing 4-on-4, as defenseman Jordon Southorn set up Shawn Szydlowski alone in front and he faked Madore before slipping the puck underneath the netminder.
But the Cyclones got an empty-net goal from Wade Megan at 19:09 to cement the victory.
Games 3, 4 and 5 will be at Memorial Coliseum on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
For more on this game, read Sunday's Journal Gazette or return to "Ice Chips" later tonight or to www.journalgazette.net after 3 a.m.