Mallards pull away with 5-3 win over Fuel
Nick Bligh tallies twice as Indy falls in Quad CityNov 11, 2017
MOLINE, ILL. – A second period surge was not enough for the Indy Fuel (2-6-1-1) Saturday night in a 5-3 loss to the Quad City Mallards (5-5-0-0) at TaxSlayer Center. Four different Mallards logged multi-point outings as Quad City won their second straight contest over the Fuel, whose winless streak stretched to five games (0-4-0-1). The two Central Division rivals will conclude a weekend double-header tomorrow afternoon, with puck drop coming at 5:05 p.m. ET.
The two lowest-scoring teams in the ECHL had no problem finding the back of the net Saturday in what was a back-and-forth affair. The Mallards struck first at 8:30 of the opening period when Brayden Low swatted a feed from Matt Pohlkamp past Indy goaltender Collin Delia. Later in the frame, Sam Warning netted the first of two goals on the night to double the home team’s advantage at the 16:46 mark.
The Fuel got on the scoreboard in the last minute of the first, when a great individual effort from Cam Reid set up Alex Wideman with a one-timer tally. After winning a puck battle on the right half wall, Reid drew a defenseman and threaded a feed to Wideman, who beat Ivan Kulbakov for his fourth goal of the season, cutting Quad City’s lead to 2-1 heading into the second.
Indy’s offense continued to generate in the middle frame, outshooting the Mallards by a 15-8 second-period margin. However, an opportunistic Quad City squad found the first goal of the period when Warning snapped a wrist shot over Delia’s right shoulder at 2:22, restoring the Mallards’ two-goal cushion.
The 3-1 lead only lasted for a few minutes before a pair of tallies from Nick Bligh brought the Fuel back to even ground. Indy pulled back within one at 5:51, when Wideman stepped out from behind the Quad City net and found Bligh swooping down from the high slot. Two and a half minutes later, Bligh tied the game at three when he stuffed a loose puck inside the right post after a blocked shot from Reid caromed off the end boards. It was a productive game for Indy’s top forward unit of Bligh (2g), Wideman (1g, 1a) and Reid (2a), who combined for six points, 12 shots and a +2 rating.
Any momentum the Fuel’s rally built was short lived, as Quad City reseized the lead before the end of the period. After forcing a turnover on their defensive blue line, Pohlkamp slid a pass to Ryan McGrath, who beat Delia at 14:52 for the eventual game-winning goal.
Indy had several chances to tie the game in the third period – including a pair of power play opportunities – but Kulbalkov and the Mallards defense held firm. Quad City added an insurance marker at 16:52 of the final frame when Tristan King deposited a rebound from Alex Globke.
Kulbalkov earned his fifth win of the season with 31 saves, while Delia stopped 24 of 29 shots in the Fuel cage.
Indy’s power play remained scoreless for the fifth straight game, though Bligh’s second goal came just as a Mallards penalty expired. The Fuel killed off the lone Quad City man advantage they faced.
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