TOLEDO, OHIO - Tyler Barnes scored 93 seconds into double overtime to give the Toledo Walleye a 4-3 victory over the Indy Fuel in Game 1 of the Central Division Semifinals Friday night at the Huntington Center. The Walleye take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven opening round series, with Game 2 coming up Sunday afternoon in Toledo.
The first Kelly Cup Playoffs game in Fuel history ended on a sour note when the Walleye sprung loose on a 3-on-2 rush early in the fifth period of play. Forward Kyle Bonis slid a cross ice feed to Barnes on the right circle, who chipped a shot over the glove of Indy goaltender Étienne Marcoux (41 saves).
Trailing 3-1 early in the third period, the Fuel rallied with two unanswered goals in the final 15 minutes of regulation time to force overtime. Josh Shalla started the comeback effort at 4:25 of the third - less than two minutes after Bonis gave the home team a two-goal cushion. Indy's leading goal scorer in the regular season took a feed from Ryan Rupert and tossed a wrist shot between the legs of Toledo netminder Pat Nagle (43 saves).
Defenseman Brandon Anselmini knotted the game at three when he threaded a shot through a crowd from the left point at 11:48 of the frame. Nathan Noel and Darian Dziurzynski picked up assists on the goal, setting the stage for sudden-death overtime.
Each team had several quality scoring opportunities through the first overtime period, but both Marcoux and Nagle were spectacular, trading save for save, as Indy and Toledo pressed for the game-winning tally.
The Walleye opened the scoring Friday halfway through the first period, courtesy of the first of two goals from forward Christian Hilbrich. Attacking the blue line with speed, Connor Crisp found Hilbrich off the far post with a one-touch pass, who was able to tap the puck behind a sprawling Marcoux.
Indy found a quick answer when Matt Rupert tied the game with a great individual effort at 11:17 of the period. After Mathew Thompson had the puck poked off his stick just inside the Walleye blue line, Rupert gained possession, split a pair of defenders and beat Nagle through the five-hole.
Hilbrich accounted for the only goal in the second period, converting on a power play at 5:26 of the frame. Toledo had plenty of chances to extend their lead even further, but Marcoux made a handful of stunning back-door saves to keep the score at 2-1 heading into the third.
Indy finished the game 0-for-4 on the man advantage, while killing off two of three Walleye opportunities. Both sides had a chance to end the game with a power play in overtime, but neither could find the back of the net.
It's time to #FindYourNextGear and cheer on the Indy Fuel during the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs! The Central Division Semifinals shift to Indiana Farmers Coliseum for Game 3 on Wednesday, April 18, as the Fuel take on the Toledo Walleye. Be part of the first playoff appearance in Fuel history by picking up your tickets at IndyFuelHockey.com or at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum box office. Don't miss a second of the action during the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs - follow the Fuel on Twitter and Instagram (@IndyFuel) and ‘Like' the Fuel on Facebook.
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