MOLINE, ILL. - The Indy Fuel found themselves in a good position to hand the Quad City Mallards their 14th consecutive loss. However, the Mallards (9-21-2-1) - led by a four-point performance from forward Sam Warning - staged a third period comeback to upend the Fuel 5-3 Friday night at TaxSlayer Center. The win was Quad City's first since Dec. 2, ending a winless streak that had stretched to 13 games (0-11-1-1).
The Fuel built leads of 2-0 and 3-2, but could not hold down a Mallards club that was hungry for its first home victory since their overtime win over Indy all the way back on Nov. 12. Forward Josh Shalla factored in all three Fuel goals (2g, 1a), but Quad City's late rally swung the first game of a weekend doubleheader to the home team. Indy remains winless in four tries at TaxSlayer Center this season, with the home team emerging victorious in each of the first six games of the season series between the Fuel and Mallards.
Shalla notched the first of his two goals to give Indy a 1-0 lead 5:40 in the first period. A pinpoint pass from Michael Neal beat three Mallards defenders and found Shalla alone in front of the net, who slipped the puck between the legs of goaltender C.J. Motte. Another Shalla shot helped Indy double its lead late in the opening frame, though this one had some help from a linemate. After taking a drop pass from defenseman Jack Burton, Shalla walked down the left wall and threw a shot on net, which hit Darian Dziurzynski in the midsection and trickled into the net at the 17:54 mark.
The 2-0 lead was short-lived, as the Mallards got on the board just over a minute later. Ryan McGrath picked off a Fuel pass in the neutral zone and beat Indy netminder Étienne Marcoux from the bottom of the circle to cut the deficit in half with 57 seconds left in the first.
Quad City found the only goal in the middle frame, evening the score at two goals apiece thanks to a superb individual effort from Warning. The Mallards' leading scorer picked up the puck in his own zone and weaved his way through the Fuel defense, throwing a wrist shot over Marcoux's glove at 11:26 of the second period.
Indy regained the lead just 1:04 into the third period, when Shalla capitalized on a broken play to tally his fourth goal in three games. But once again, Quad City answered quickly to tie the game once again exactly one minute later. Forward Gergo Nagy stepped into a slap shot from the left circle, squeaking through Marcoux at the 2:04 mark of the third.
After picking up a secondary assist on Nagy's equalizer, Warning struck again on the power play to give the Mallards their first lead of the night at the 5:56 mark of the third. The forward capped off his four-point evening with under four minutes left in regulation, beating a Fuel defender wide in transition and slipping a backdoor feed to Tristan King for the insurance marker.
In his first game back with Quad City after a stint with the AHL's Iowa Wild, Motte picked up his second win of the season with 40 saves - stopping 16 of 17 shots in the third period. Marcoux suffered the loss for Indy, stopping 28 shots. The Fuel finished the game with a 43-33 edge in the shot column, including a 32-23 edge in the latter two periods.
The two Central Division rivals will meet again Saturday night in a rematch at TaxSlayer Center. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. ET.
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