TOLEDO, OHIO - A pair of third period goals made things interesting, but the Indy Fuel (5-10-2-1) finished on the short end of a 3-2 decision to the Toledo Walleye Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd at Huntington Center. Finishing with a 1-1 record on the weekend, the Fuel return to Indiana Farmers Coliseum next weekend for two games beginning Friday against the Wheeling Nailers.
Facing a 3-0 deficit in the late stages of the third period, Indy found the net twice in the final 3:57 of regulation time to make it a one-goal game. The loss came in Indy's first road test in nearly three weeks, while the Central Division-leading Walleye improved to a perfect 7-0 on home ice.
Both teams traded scoring chances in a scoreless first period, with the Fuel looking to carry the momentum from their 3-1 victory over the Quad City Mallards on Friday. The best scoring chance in the opening frame belonged to Toledo's Zach Nastasiuk, but a diving save from Fuel forward Ryan Rupert kept the contest scoreless through 20 minutes.
The Walleye broke through in the second period, scoring twice while outshooting Indy by a 16-6 margin. Dylan Sadowy gave the home team a 1-0 lead 4:19 into the frame, unleashing a wave of stuffed animals from the crowd as part of Toledo's Teddy Bear Toss night. The forward beat goaltender Étienne Marcoux to a dump-in behind the Fuel cage, curled around the right face-off dot and snapped a wrist shot inside the left post for his first of the season.
Patrick McCarron doubled the lead with 2:33 left in the second, when a shot from the blue line took a redirection off of an Indy defender and found its way behind Marcoux.
Down by two to start the third, the Fuel began to build offensive pressure as the final frame began. However, it was Toledo that extended its lead when Tyler Barnes chipped in a second-chance opportunity at the 10:59 mark.
Indy finally solved netminder Pat Nagle and the Walleye defense at 16:03, when defenseman Nolan Descoteaux picked up his first goal of the season. Michael Neal won a puck battle behind the Walleye net and found Descoteaux stepping into the slot, who tucked a backhand behind a sprawling Nagle.
With just 1.4 seconds remaining and Marcoux on the bench for an extra skater, Ryan Rupert tacked on a power play goal to cut Toledo's lead to 3-2. Johnny McInnis corralled a Matt Rupert shot attempt off of the left post and threw it to the slot, where Ryan beat Nagle over the shoulder for his third goal in as many games.
With Rupert's goal the Fuel finished the night 1-for-4 against Toledo's top-ranked penalty kill, while Indy thwarted all three Walleye opportunities faced.
Marcoux logged another strong start in the Fuel net, stopping 32 of 35 shots faced. Nagle made 22 saves en route to picking up his ECHL-leading 12th win of the season.
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