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Walleye comeback bid falls short in OT loss to Fuel

Friday, December 13th
Walleye comeback bid falls short in OT loss to Fuel

INDIANAPOLISJosh Kestner scored twice as the Toledo Walleye erased a three-goal deficit to force overtime against the Indy Fuel on Thursday, but Derian Plouffe tallied the game-winner 1:18 into the extra session to clinch a 4-3 result for the home side at Indiana Farmers Coliseum.

Indy (11-12-0-0) held a 3-0 lead after the opening 20 minutes, but Kestner capitalized on Toledo’s (13-8-2-0) first power play opportunity just 45 ticks into the second period. He received a rinkwide pass from Shane Berschbach at the top of the right circle and snapped a one-timer between the pads of Charles Williams.

The Walleye continued their comeback bid during the third frame, and eventually pulled even with a pair of goals in a 1:55 span. Steve Oleksy’s slapshot from the right point was redirected in front by Brett Boeing, who corraled the rebound and had a couple chances to backhand the puck past Williams’ catching glove to cut the deficit to 3-2 with 8:13 left in regulation. 

Kestner’s second goal of the night, and team-leading 13th of the campaign, knotted the score at three apiece moments later. After Mark Auk circled away from pressure near the right dot, Justin Buzzeo sent a pass from the right half-boards to Kestner in the high slot for a one-timer that deflected off the left shoulder of Josh McArdle and into the top right corner. The Walleye had another chance on the power play after Mikael Hakkarainen was called for tripping with 4:17 on the clock, but could not grab their first lead of the contest as the game headed into overtime.

Although the Walleye earned at least a point on the road for the fourth consecutive game (3-0-1-0), the Fuel scored the deciding goal with 68 seconds gone in the extra period. Bobby MacIntyre drove the net on the right side and had his initial attempt blocked by Billy Christopoulos, but Plouffe was in front to lift the rebound into the roof of the goal as Indy escaped with a 4-3 victory.

The Fuel opened the scoring on their first shot 4:40 into the contest. After Mike Moffat’s pass was blocked at the right point by MacIntyre, the latter led a 2-on-1 into the Toledo zone before sliding the puck throught the slot to Spencer Watson for a one-timer into an open net.

Indy doubled its advantage at the 11:23 mark of the same stanza. Nathan Noel won a faceoff in the offensive zone, which enabled Alex Brooks to unload a slapshot from the right point that sailed through traffic and inside the left post.

Another odd-man rush propelled the Fuel to a 3-0 lead with 1:37 left in the first period. Assigned to Indy from the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs earlier in the day, Hakkarainen took a rinkwide pass from Alex Rauter at the right circle and fired a one-timer inside the right post.

In all, Toledo finished 1-for-2 on the power play, while Indy failed to convert on its sole opportunity. Christopoulos stopped 36-of-40 shots, but was outgunned by Williams’ 40-save performance. 

What’s Next:The Walleye return to the Huntington Center to complete their home-and-home series against the Fuel. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.

Three Stars:1. Indy – Mikael Hakkarainen (goal)2. Indy – Derian Plouffe (overtime goal)3. Indy – Spencer Watson (goal) 

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