TOLEDO, Ohio —
Playoff hockey is always about endurance, perseverance and survival, and though the Fort Wayne Komets showed plenty of all those Saturday night, they are now fighting to keep their season alive.
Despite rallying three times and forcing overtime with 20.6 seconds remaining, the Komets lost Game 2 to the Toledo Walleye 4-3 to fall behind 2-0 in the ECHL playoff series. Games 3 and 4 will be played in Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday and Friday.
The ending was controversial. Nine seconds after the overtime faceoff, Komets forward Shawn Szydlowski was called for an elbowing penalty at center ice against Toledo's Dane Walters. Walters then scored the game-winning goal on the ensuing power play 1:00 into overtime.
The Walleye have scored three power-play goals in the series after scoring 13 in six regular-season games against the Komets.
Szydlowski was not prepared to speak after the game, and Komets coach Gary Graham said he wouldn't take any questions about penalties, but captain Jamie Schaafsma stepped up to defend his teammate.
"It's disappointing to get a call like that in the playoffs when everything is on the line," Schaafsma said. "It's a very soft call, a battle nowhere near the puck. That's disappointing to see, but we can't control stuff like that. We still have to find a way to kill off those penalties. For the most part we've been doing a good job of that. When they are going to call that kind of call, it's difficult to know what is going on in the game. That's not what playoff hockey is about."
The Komets got goals from Gabriel Desjardins and Kyle Thomas before Cody Sol's blast tied the game with the extra attacker and forced overtime.
Now the Komets will have to rely on their league-best home record to come through again.
"Like I told the boys, we battled all year long and had the best home record in the league," Graham said. "Let's take it home and we just have to keep believing. We're playing some good hockey right now and there's no reason to panic."
The Komets won the shots battle 41-30, but probably could have had four or five more goals, but Toledo goaltender Jeff Lerg continues to play well. For the second game in a row, they had the majority of the chances when playing five-on-five.
"It's hard for me to stand here and losing again and be happy, but I really like the team and I have no problems with the way we are playing right now," Graham said. "We have to bear down on our scoring chances. How many great scoring chances did we not score on?"
The Fort Wayne locker room was quiet but everyone still seemed determined.
"I don't think we should have lost that game," forward Garrett Thompson said. "?We knew we were going to have to still one here, so we'll just have to do it the next game."
For more on the Komets, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blakesebring and at his blog www.tailingthekomets.com.