WHEELING, W. Va. – The Toledo Walleye wrapped up a stretch of four games in five days with a 5-2 victory over the Wheeling Nailers on Sunday at WesBanco Arena.
T.J. Hensick, Marcus Vela and Brett Boeing all scored against former teammate Andrew D’Agostini, who was traded by the Walleye (13-8-1-0) to Wheeling (9-10-4-0) on Wednesday, before Josh Winquist and Josh Kestner gave the visitors some much-needed breathing room with a pair of empty-net goals in the final minute of regulation. For his part, Billy Christopoulos earned the win after stopping 31-of-33 shots, including all but one of the 18 he faced during the third period.
Brandon Hawkins struck first for Wheeling 6:34 into the contest. After Steve Johnson’s clearing attempt went off Brenden Kotyk’s glove at the Toledo blue line, Justin Almeida raced down the left wing and set up Hawkins, who fired a wrist shot from the left circle inside the near post.
The Walleye pulled even on a shot from a tight angle at 14:42. Winquist dumped the puck from his own half of center ice toward the right corner, which Hensick chased down before roofing a shot that went over the left shoulder of D’Agostini.
Toledo then grabbed a 2-1 lead courtesy of Vela’s eighth goal of the campaign. Although Mike Moffat’s initial wrist shot from the right point deflected off a stick in the slot and bounced off the left post, Vela raced toward the net and buried the rebound into an open cage at the 18:19 mark.
The Walleye expanded their lead to 3-1 one period later. Hensick’s stretch pass from his own left circle caught Wheeling on a partial line change, as Boeing lifted his breakaway attempt into the top left corner at the 6:25 mark.
Although the Walleye withstood a 5-on-3 lasting 21 seconds, the Nailers eventually made it a one-goal game with 14:01 to go in regulation. Just one second after Moffat stepped out of the penalty box, Blake Siebenaler’s wrist shot from the top of the right circle hit traffic in front before Willy Smith jabbed the rebound over the goalline.
Despite being outshot 18-8 during the final period, the visitors put the game beyond any doubt on the strength of two empty-net goals. With D’Agostini on the bench for the extra attacker, Winquist found the vacated net with 59 seconds remaining, before Kestner followed suit with his team-leading 11th goal of the season 29 ticks later as the Walleye improved to 3-0 against the Nailers this season.
Toledo went a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill, while having only five seconds of power play time. D’Agostini turned away 27-of-30 shots in a losing cause.
What’s Next:The Walleye will start another three-games-in-three-days run on Thursday, as they travel to the Hoosier State for a 7:05 p.m. puck drop against the Indy Fuel.
Three Stars:1. Toledo – T.J. Hensick (goal, two assists)2. Toledo – Brett Boeing (goal)3. Wheeling – Brandon Hawkins (goal)