KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The Kalamazoo Wings were playing their third game in four nights in three cities – including Orlando, Fla. – yet they were the team that looked more energized and smarter in the third period Friday night at Wings Stadium.
They scored three unanswered goals in the final period to defeat the Komets 5-2, a night after the Komets scored three in a row for a 4-3 victory at Memorial Coliseum.
“The continual parade of penalties to the box caught up to us,” said Komets coach Al Sims, whose team was short-handed eight times, giving up two power-play goals, while playing only its second game in six days.
But that game was Fort Wayne’s fourth loss in its last five, and much of the blame belongs to the Komets’ mediocre penalty kill, which came into the night ranked 11th among the ECHL’s 23 teams with an efficiency of 82.9 percent.
John Armstrong scored the game-winning goal on a breakaway, seconds after getting out of the penalty box to create a Wings power play.
“Pride is not going to fix the penalty kill,” Sims said. “The guys who are out there have to get the job done. On that breakaway, there’s just no excuse. Everybody knew (Armstrong) would be coming out of the penalty box. Everybody is yelling from the bench. And we get caught. There are no excuses.”
The Komets (8-6-1) then gave up a goal to Aaron Clarke after he received a pass from behind the Fort Wayne net, and one to Brett Lysak on a 3-on-2 rush.
“Obviously, we gave up too many penalties throughout the whole game,” Komets captain Colin Chaulk said, “but we can’t give up big plays like that (to Armstrong). I let him get away there on the breakaway. And we didn’t get the puck out of the defensive zone and it led to a backdoor goal (for Clarke). You can’t expect your goaltender to make all those saves.”
Komets goalie Kenny Reiter (3-2-1) stopped 28 of 33 shots. Joel Martin (7-5-0) stopped 37 of 39 for the Wings (9-8-0).
“We’re not playing smart,” Chaulk said. “I think our work ethic has been better the last two games than they were in the previous three (-game losing streak). But we’re not playing smart, we’re not playing together and we’re taking bad penalties.
“When we get the puck, we’re giving it right back to them. We need to manage the puck better, make better decisions and not give up big plays.”
Fort Wayne’s Jean-Michel Rizk opened the scoring 8:02 into the first period, during a power play (the Komets were 1 for 6), after Brandon Marino set him up with a backhand cross-ice pass. Armstrong answered with a power-play goal on a redirection at 16:38.
In the second period, Lysak scored off a rebound and Fort Wayne’s Thomas Beauregard tied it with a 30-foot wrist shot through a crowd.
The Komets finish their string of three games in as many nights at Memorial Coliseum today against the Toledo Walleye.