TOLEDO, Ohio – The Toledo Walleye will head to Tulsa with a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals, thanks to a 4-1 win over the Oilers on Sunday before a capacity crowd of 7,519 at the Huntington Center.
Pat Nagle turned away 39-of-40 shots to tie Newfoundland’s Michael Garteig for the ECHL lead with his 10th win of the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs presented by Smile Direct Club. In all, Nagle boasts a postseason record of 10-3 with a 1.66 goals-against average and a 0.944 save percentage.
The Walleye, who are 4-1 on the road during the playoffs, will now travel to Tulsa to play as many as three straight games at the BOK Center, where the Oilers own a 6-1 postseason record. Game 3 is scheduled for Wednesday at 8:05 p.m. EDT.
Toledo used a near tic-tac-toe sequence to draw first blood 14:16 into the contest. After David Pope dangled his way into the Tulsa zone and dropped the puck to Matt Register at the point, the latter threw a diagonal pass to A.J. Jenks at the lower part of the left circle, which in turn set up Pope at the back door for a simple one-timer.
The Oilers’ inability to get out of their own end proved costly 1:23 later. Quarterbacking a breakout attempt behind the visitors’ net, Chris Forney’s ill-advised clearing effort was knocked down just above the left circle by Chris Crane, who controlled the puck before unloading a wrist shot through the five-hole of Evan Fitzpatrick to double Toledo’s advantage.
The Walleye lead ballooned to 3-0 in the second period courtesy of Jenks’ power play goal at 12:37. Shane Berschbach took a pass from Register at the top of the left circle and lasered the puck to Jenks in the slot for a redirection into the top right corner.
Greg Wolfe notched Toledo’s fourth and final goal with 23 seconds remaining in the frame. Kevin Tansey had his sharp-angle attempt from the outer edge of the right circle trickle through Fitzpatrick’s arm and blocker, but Wolfe dove into the crease to ensure the rolling puck crossed the goal line for his team-best seventh goal of the playoffs. Fitzpatrick, two days removed from stopping just 1-of-3 shots in 17:04 of relief, was replaced by third-string netminder Ian Keserich to start the final frame, as first-choice goaltender Devin Williams was scratched after exiting Game 1 due to injury.
An unfortunate bounce spoiled Nagle’s otherwise perfect performance with 8:29 to go in the third. Alone in the high slot, Charlie Sampair got his stick on Eric Drapluk’s shot from the right point, causing the puck to take an unusually high hop inside the left post.
Toledo finished 1-for-4 on the power play while Tulsa failed to score on two opportunities. Fitzpatrick was credited with the loss after stopped 19-of-23 in two periods of work, though Keserich blocked all eight shots he faced during the final 20 minutes.
1. Toledo – A.J. Jenks (power play goal, assist)
2. Toledo – Pat Nagle (W, 39 saves)
3. Toledo – Matt Register (two assists)