FORT WAYNE – Ugly is beautiful.
That was the Komets’ mantra Saturday night after they defeated the Cincinnati Cyclones 3-2 in overtime at Memorial Coliseum to tie the Eastern Conference semifinals at 2.
After spending the first two periods looking for the long breakout passes that were repeatedly intercepted by the Cyclones, the Komets simplified their game, recovered from a two-goal deficit and won on defenseman Jordon Southorn’s shot from the blue line. Southorn’s shot caromed off Cyclones defenseman Taylor Aronson and past goaltender Rob Madore at 5:22.
Ugly is beautiful and that’s the way you’ve got to win these overtime games, said Komets coach Gary Graham, whose team lost Game 3 on Thursday in double overtime on forward Josh Shalla’s power-play goal at the Coliseum.
We’ve just got to start throwing pucks at the net. Against a good, defensive-structured team like that, the more likely we were to get pucks to the net, the likelihood is that we were going to get second chances and create more offensive-zone faceoffs. We look at funneling pucks to the net as an opportunity to do a lot.
Game 5 is tonight at the Coliseum and the goal is simple: Don’t allow the Cyclones to build early leads as they have the last two games.
We’ve been pretty good in the third period, but it’s a recipe for disaster going down 2-0, Southorn said. That’s the best road team in the league. They were during the regular season, and it shows here. We don’t want to start every game down 2-0.
Coming into the locker room after the second period, we said, Boys, we’ve got to get the puck deep and get to work.’ And we’ve got to do that (in Game 5) for the full 60 minutes, not just in the third period.
Goaltender Ben Meisner stopped 35 shots for the Komets, who are 4-1 in the playoffs at the Coliseum. Madore stopped 34 for the Cyclones, who are 4-1 on the road in the playoffs.
The Cyclones tallied 10 of the first 13 shots, including one at 9:16 that came off the stick of forward Matt Tinordi from 25 feet out and went in, just after a Cincinnati power play expired.
Florida Panthers prospect Logan Shaw, one of the Cyclones’ nine NHL-contracted players, made it 2-0 by skating in from the blue line, while fighting off center Scott Fleming, and wristing the puck into the top of the net 1:00 into the second period.
Fort Wayne’s Christian Ouellet scored on a similar play 1:38 later.
Szydlowski tied it with his team-leading fifth playoff goal at 14:19 of the third period by splitting the Cincinnati defense, blue-liner Mike Dalhuisen was hurting from blocking a shot seconds before, and faking Madore out of position.
I don’t know why, but we need to get behind by a couple goals to light a fire under us, for whatever reason, Komets forward Aaron Clarke said. That was basically our season, we felt, coming out in the third period. If we lost that game, we would have been down 3-1 (in the series), so we just tried to throw everything at the net and the winning goal showed that throwing the puck at the net isn’t a bad thing.