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Elmira at Komets
Face-off: 8 p.m. Friday
Radio: WOWO, 1190-AM
KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Maybe the first goal was too easy.
Winger Mike Embach scored on the Fort Wayne Komets' first shot Wednesday night, ripping a slap shot that slipped through the pads of Kalamazoo goaltender Jordan Binnington.
And then the Komets allowed Binnington to warm up and stop the next 28 shots in a row to win 3-1 and end Fort Wayne's seven-game point streak. The Komets outshot the Wings 29-20 on the scoreboard and probably took 45 shots on the Kalamazoo net but continually missed high and wide. They bruised the Wings Stadium glass and the boards more than Binnington's pads.
"We have to hit the net more and get everybody going to the net,'' Komets center Kenton Miller said "They have a good goalie, so you've got to take every chance you get at the net.''
But they never did, especially on the power play where Fort Wayne was held scoreless in six chances. There was usually a Komet standing in front trying to screen Binnington, but the shots never got through so there could be rebounds.
Five-on-five, Binnington was leaving rebounds, but no Komets were getting to them.
"They front really well, better than the majority of the teams we play,'' Embach said. "Most teams try to box out, but they get in front and block shots from getting though. They must have blocked six or seven when I was in front of the net, and I kept thinking if we could get one through we'd have a two-on-one in front, but it never happened. They also use those blocks to start their odd-man rushes.''
The strange thing was, the Komets felt they controlled most of the play and gave a solid effort and outplayed the Wings but still lost the game. They controlled the neutral zone most of the contest but couldn't beat Binnington after the first shot.
A win would have pushed the Komets ahead of the Wings for third place in the ECHL's North Division. Instead, they are three points back after playing Kalamazoo in four of the last five games.
``We didn't hit the net enough in the third with our chances, and that's what killed us,'' Komets coach Gary Graham said. ``We were trying to get the guys to commit and go for second chances at the net because that's what it's going to have to be against a good goalie like that.''
The Komets also continued to dominate the Kalamazoo power play, holding the Wings scoreless in five chances to run their season streak against the Wings to 22 consecutive kills. Conversely, the Komets have scored only two power-play goals in 22 chances against the Wings.
Making his first ECHL start, rookie goaltender Max Strang played solidly against the Wings, keeping the Komets in the game for most of it, but his teammates couldn't finish at the other end.
``I think we had a good solid 50 minutes and we let down for 10 minutes in the third,'' Komets defenseman Jordon Southorn said. ``We didn't capitalize on the chances we had. That's kind of been the story of the games lately, we're not scoring enough. You can't really practice scoring, but we've got to bear down because they've all been close games lately. ''