TOLEDO, Ohio – The Toledo Walleye evened their Western Conference Finals series with the Utah Grizzlies at one game apiece on Saturday night, scoring the final three goals of the contest to earn the 5-2 victory at the Huntington Center.
Five players contributed goals for the Walleye, with Matt Berry netting the game-winner on the power play late in the second period. That goal capped off a three-goal second period for Toledo, while the Fish added two more in the final frame to secure the win.
The Walleye outshot the Grizzlies, 13-7, to open the game, but Utah collected the lone goal of the first period to gain the early lead. The goal came off the stick of Luke Martin, who scored from the left circle as Charle-Edouard D’Astous and Benjamin Tardiff assisted. Neither team collected a penalty in the period, keeping the contest at equal strength for the opening 20 minutes.
The Walleye found themselves with the lead just 5:15 into the second period after goals from TJ Hensick and Cam Clarke. Hensick scored after a pass ahead by Brandon Hawkins at the 2:26 mark, tying the game at one. Randy Gazzola added a secondary assist as Hensick tallied his eighth goal of the playoffs.
Clarke scored the go-ahead goal on the power play from behind the right circle, putting the Walleye ahead by one. The goal marked his third of the playoffs, and Josh Dickinson and Mitchell Heard assisted.
Nearly eight minutes went by before the Grizzlies tied the game at two on a goal from Joey Colatarci. The goal came at equal strength with 13:01 gone, with Miles Gendron and Dylan Fitze assisting.
At the 16:29 mark, the Walleye regained the lead on a Matt Berry power play goal. Berry found the back of the net from right in front of the goal, skating from the left side toward Utah’s Trent Miner and sneaking the puck in the right side of the net. TJ Hensick and Blake Hillman recorded the assists as the Walleye took the 3-2 lead.
Toledo outshot Utah, 18-7, in the second frame and maintained its lead heading into the third period.
The Walleye entered the third period on the penalty kill following a Mitchell Heard slashing minor with 49 seconds left in the second frame. The Walleye earned the penalty kill, and 13 seconds later, Brett McKenzie found the back of the net to put Toledo up by two. Mitchell Heard and Gordi Myer assisted on the goal.
Marcus Vela extended the lead to three at the 7:48 mark with his second goal of the playoffs, scoring off a Utah turnover with help from John Albert and Blake Hillman. The Walleye took the 5-2 lead with the tally, extending their largest lead of the contest and capping off a string of three straight Toledo goals.
Tempers flared throughout the third period, boiling over with two fights in less than three mintues of play. Joey Colatarci and Mitchell Heard went to the penalty boxes for fighting at 9:02, and Marcus Vela and Miles Gendron joined them with 11:46 gone as each player picked up slashing and fighting penalties.
Utah took 11 shots to Toledo’s nine in the final frame, but the Walleye held the Grizzlies scoreless for the remainder of the game to secure the 5-2 win. Toledo tied the series at one game apiece with the Game 2 victory.
The Walleye took 40 shots over the course of the game while holding the Grizzlies to 25. Toledo was a perfect 2-for-2 on the power play while Utah was held scoreless on three chances with the man advantage.
Billy Christopoulos got back in the win column for the Walleye, stopping 23-of-25 shots faced. Trent Miner recorded the loss for Utah in a 35-save effort.
The Walleye will hit the road for Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday, May 24, as they look to take the series lead against the Utah Grizzlies. Puck drop from the Maverik Center is set for 9:10 p.m. EDT.
- Toledo – TJ Hensick (goal, assist)
- Toledo – Mitchell Heard (two assists)
- Toledo – Blake Hillman (two assists)