FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Toledo Walleye moved within one win of advancing to the Central Division Finals with a decisive 5-1 victory over the Fort Wayne Komets on Friday at the Memorial Coliseum.
Holding a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Central Division Semifinals, the Walleye return to the Huntington Center with a chance to eliminate Fort Wayne in Game 5 on Saturday at 7:35 p.m. Pat Nagle blocked 23-of-24 shots in his fourth consecutive start between the pipes, and his 1.16 goals-against average and 0.958 save percentage lead all goaltenders who have started at least one game in the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs presented by Smile Direct Club.
David Pope started the scoring on the power play with his first professional postseason goal 7:36 into the contest. After Shane Berschbach’s initial try from the left circle hit the inside of the left post, Randy Gazzola kept the puck in at the right point and quickly sent a pass down to Berschbach, who in turn set up Pope at the right dot for a wrist shot past the left shoulder of Zachary Fucale.
The Walleye doubled their lead nearly four minutes into the middle period. Although Kevin Tansey’s one-timer from the point was blocked by Fucale, Dylan Sadowy was able to spin to his forehand and lift the rebound into the top left corner before taking an extra cross-check from Cody Cescon in the slot.
Toledo opened up a 3-0 cushion later in the frame courtesy of Zach Gallant’s team-leading third goal of the opening round. Tansey worked his way toward the right post and centered a pass to Gallant in front for a shot that rolled inside the left post before Fucale could dive across his crease at 10:38.
Fort Wayne made its mark on the scoresheet 1:38 later, as Anthony Petruzzelli chipped a pass of the left half-boards to Cescon at the near point for a wrist shot past a screened Nagle.
Still in front by a pair in the final half of the third period, the Walleye put the game beyond any doubt with two insurance tallies. Bryan Moore had his first attempt blocked in the high slot by Ryan Lowney, but extended Toledo’s margin to 4-1 by sliding his own rebound between Fucale’s pads with 8:45 left. Ben Danford added a fifth goal on an empty-netter from inside the visitors’ blue line with 3:16 remaining.
The Walleye finished 1-for-4 on the man advantage while Fort Wayne failed to cash in on five opportunities. Fucale stopped 17-of-21 shots in a losing cause.
1. Toledo – Dylan Sadowy (goal, assist)
2. Toledo – Kevin Tansey (three assists)
3. Toledo – David Pope (power play goal)