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Komets as Las Vegas
Face-off: 10 p.m.
Radio: WOWO, 1190-AM
TV: MyTV, Comcast Ch. 18, Frontier Ch. 9
The Fort Wayne Komets celebrated three very important first with their 3-1 victory over the Las Vegas Wranglers on Friday night.
* It was their first win of the season after a 0-1-2 start.
* It was Gary Graham's first as coach of the Komets.
* It was also the first professional win for goaltender Andrey Makarov.
But who is Andrey Makarov?
He's the goaltender the Buffalo Sabres assigned to the Komets on Thursday, and the 20-year-old rookie flew across the country in time to start Friday's game. He finished with 26 saves as his new teammates out-shot Las Vegas 39-27.
Makarov played 61 games last year with Saskatoon of the Western Hockey League where he went 37-17-5 with seven shutouts, a 2.62 goals against average and .919 save percentage. He also played for Russian in the World Junior Championship and won a bronze medal after leading Russia to the silver medal the year before. Makarov stopped 57 of 58 shots but lost to Sweden 1-0 in the title game.
Graham said Komets General Manager David Franke had been working on acquiring Makarov from the Sabres for a while.
``They are a team like us in that they haven't really had an affiliation and they assign guys to different teams throughout the league,'' Graham said in a phone interview from Las Vegas. ``It was the right timing, and we wanted to bring somebody in and give him an opportunity. He was just excited to come in and play some games because all he's been doing is working with goalie coaches and getting ready.''
Makarov was certainly ready Friday night. The Komets made some blunders in front of him during the first period, but Makarov made the erasing saves to give his teammates some confidence.
``He's very poised in net,'' Graham said. ``He's very good at playing the puck and has a good glove. He's a guy who has played in a lot of games the last few years and in a lot of big moments. He takes extremely good care of himself.''
The Komets showed some improvement in Friday's game. They cut down on their own penalties, giving the Wranglers only three power-play chances, and scored a key power-play goal in the second period. After Scott Fleming had scored to give Fort Wayne a 1-0 lead, linemate Chris Auger slammed home a rebound from in front to make it 2-0.
After the Wranglers' Robbie Smith scored late in the period to cut the margin to 2-1, Mickey Lang answered in front of his hometown fans to push the lead to 3-1.
``It's just as step in the right direction for us,'' Graham said. ``We're going to keep taking baby steps. This is the score in the game that we need to have. We want to be able to win these type of games to where you can really frustrate teams and play in these type of moments. Hopefully now we can put a string of these together.''