There can be nothing worse in hockey than giving up a goal with one-tenth of a second left on the clock.|
Unless it is one that proves to be the game-decider.
On your home ice.
And against the team you are chasing in the playoff standings.
Quad City Mallards goalie David Brown called it "infuriating." He was probably just being nice.
Fort Wayne's Chris Auger took a pass from Artem Podshendyalov as the final seconds evaporated in the second period of Friday's game against the Mallards at the I wireless Center. Just as the clock was hitting 0:00, Auger nudged the puck past Brown's left side.
The Komets got the goal, got the momentum and got the win, hanging on for a 3-2 victory.
"Those are tough to take. They are momentum-killers," QC coach David Bell said of the Komet buzzer-beater. "It's a lack of clock management, a lack of focus. Any goal at the end of a period is tough to swallow. You just need to kill the clock and live to fight another day."
That tenth-of-a-second goal cost the Mallards more than a win. It also dropped QC a spot in the CHL's Turner Conference standings. QC (23-18-1, 47 points) fell to fifth behind Rapid City (23-14-3, 49 points), important because only four conference teams make the playoffs.
QC falls seven points behind second-place Fort Wayne, and is now 1-4 against the Komets. Besides an 0-1 record vs. Tulsa, the Mallards have a losing record in the CHL only vs. Fort Wayne and leader Evansville (0-3).'
"Both are very good," Bell said of the Turner leaders. "Both have veteran clubs. To beat them, we're going to have to out-energize them."
The coach said Friday's game didn't run on that kind of battery power.
"We're a high-energy team," he said. "But if we don't play that way, we're not very good. I just thought we lacked energy tonight," calling the game and the atmosphere "boring" because of that.
Yet, the game certainly had an exciting finish, thanks to a power-play goal by Obi Aduba with 2:53 left in the game. Desperate for a game-tying goal, QC pulled Brown for an extra attacker in the final minute, but that proved to be a wasted advantage. Fort Wayne tied up the puck on the boards throughout much of that.
The Mallards only scored with power plays. Matt Duffy scored his second goal of the season in the first period to tie the score at one.
It was Fort Wayne's second-period goals that left QC cringing, and not just the latest of lamp-lighters. A goal by Brett Smith with 6:42 left came from the oddest of angles from the sideboard, somehow getting past Brown's shoulder on the far side of the net.
"That second goal was extremely unfortunate," said Brown, adding that he never saw it coming. "I don't think that could happen again."
Added Bell of Smith's goal, "That was a fluky goal. Those happen. They frustrate you, but not as much as those at the end of the period."
The Mallards just couldn't recover from the latter.
They'll have the chance to bounce back, though. Quad City returns to the Moline arena tonight, hosting Bloomington at 7:05. It will be the first time in eight games that the Mallards are facing a team not in the playoff hunt.
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