TOLEDO, Ohio – The Toledo Walleye saw their season-high four-game winning streak come to an end on Saturday, as the Indy Fuel tallied three first-period goals en route to a 5-2 decision in front of a capacity crowd of 7,815 at the Huntington Center.
The Walleye, who entered the contest having won each of their previous four home games (19-9-3-0), were left stunned as Indy (16-16-1-0) scored on each of its first two shots on goal. Alex Rauter intercepted Kaden Fulcher’s pass near the left corner and quickly centered the puck to Alex Krushelnyski, who spun to his forehand and tucked his shot into an open net 1:08 into the opening period. The Toledo netminder was making his debut on home ice this season and first appearance between the pipes since Oct. 25 at Kansas City.
The Fuel doubled their lead 1:13 later, as Spencer Watson weaved his way through the slot and found Bobby MacIntyre at the left edge of the crease for a simple tap-in.
Toledo was unable to make its mark on the scoresheet after a pair of odd-man rushes were turned aside by rookie goaltender Dan Bakala, and fell further behind when Indy opened up a 3-0 lead at 12:45. MacIntyre chipped a pass ahead to Watson in the Walleye zone, before the latter moved to his backhand and lifted a breakaway attempt into the top left corner for his 20th goal of the season.
The Walleye were handed a lifeline when back-to-back minor penalties to Joe Sullivan and Derian Plouffe gave the hosts a 5-on-3 lasting 1:34. With both Indy skaters still seated in the sin bin, Brandon Anselmini had his initial slapshot blocked at the right dot, but he regained the puck and set up Josh Kestner at the top of the left circle for a one-timer inside the near post at the 17:34 mark.
Special teams continued to factor into an increasingly chippy matchup. Steven Oleksy's five-minute major and game misconduct was partially negated when Bakala was whistled for playing the puck outside of the trapezoid near the halfway point of regulation. Exactly one minute after Bakala’s infraction, Anselmini was going to be assessed a kneeing minor, but Craig Wzyomirski retaliated with several punches to the back of the head and was assessed a five-minute match penalty for fighting at 10:33.
The Walleye cashed in on the rare 3-on-3 opportunity, cutting the deficit to 3-2 at the 11:01 mark. Kestner and Shane Berschbach played catch as they entered the Indy zone on a 2-on-1, before the latter wristed a shot from the left circle past Bakala’s catching glove.
This time, any chance of a comeback bid proved to be short-lived as Indy restored its two-goal cushion moments later. A Sam Kurker wrist shot from the right circle deflected off the stick of Kevin Spinozzi and found a gap between Fulcher’s catching glove and the right post.
Krushelnyski eventually wrapped up the scoring with his second goal of the night by snapping his breakaway attempt into the top right corner with 18:25 to go in the third.
Toledo finished 1-for-3 on the power play, while Indy failed to capitalize on four opportunities. Bakala stopped 33-of-35 shots, including all 17 he faced during the third period, to earn the victory, as Fulcher blocked 24-of-29 in defeat.
What’s Next:The Walleye will conclude a stretch of three games in three days on Sunday with a road tilt against the Wheeling Nailers. Puck drop from WesBanco Arena is set for 4:05 p.m.
Three Stars:1. Indy – Alex Krushelnyski (two goals)2. Indy – Spencer Watson (goal, assist)3. Toledo – Josh Kestner (power play goal, assist)