FORT WAYNE, IND. - A pair of early third period goals proved to be the difference Wednesday night as the Indy Fuel (21-23-2-1) fell 4-2 to the Fort Wayne Komets (33-13-2-1) at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. The loss came in the first of four games in five days for the Fuel, who will wrap up a season-long seven game road swing this weekend in Kansas City and Tulsa.
In what had been a tight-checking contest through 40 minutes, Fort Wayne's top-ranked offense turned a 2-1 lead to a three-goal cushion with two strikes in the first two minutes of the third period. Shawn Szydlowski converted an odd-man rush with Gabriel Desjardins just 67 seconds into the final frame to open a 3-1 lead, before Ryan Lowney tacked on another goal just 53 seconds later.
The two rapid goals spoiled a strong performance from Fuel netminder Matt Tomkins, who turned aside 37 shots - including 28 over the first two periods of play. The rookie netminder, along with his Komets counterpart Michael Houser (22 saves), kept the game scoreless until over the halfway mark of the second period, where Fort Wayne used a string of power play opportunities to take the upper hand.
Soon after Fuel forward Reed Seckel was ejected for a boarding major, Justin Hodgman broke loose and snapped a wrist shot over Tomkins' glove, putting the Komets on the board 12:42 into the middle frame.
Despite giving up the ice breaker, Tomkins and the Indy penalty kill were superb in the second period. The Fuel escaped a stretch of five consecutive Komet power plays (including a two-minute 5-on-3 advantage following Hodgman's tally) with just a 1-0 deficit. Indy evened the score with just over a minute left in the frame, when Darian Dziurzynski walked around a Fort Wayne defender and beat Houser for his 15th goal of the season.
However, the tie only lasted 12 seconds before Desjardins snapped a wrist shot under the crossbar to put the Komets back on top, sending the home team into the third with a 2-1 edge.
Josh Shalla also scored for the Fuel, netting a power play goal with 1:15 left in regulation time, at which time Fort Wayne had all but wrapped up the two points.
The late tally left Indy 1-for-3 on the power play, while the Fuel penalty kill held the Komets to one goal on five opportunities.
The Fuel now head to Independence, Mo. for a key Friday-Saturday series with the Kansas City Mavericks - who Indy trails by just five points for fifth place in the Central Division standings. Puck drop both nights at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. ET.
Single game tickets are now available for the entire 2017-18 Fuel season at Indiana Farmers Coliseum! Fans can also take advantage of a wide variety of ticket plans by calling 317-925-FUEL or visiting IndyFuelHockey.com. Don't miss a second of the action during the 2017-18 season - follow the Fuel on Twitter and Instagram (@IndyFuel) and ‘Like' the Fuel on Facebook.
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