Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Forward Justin MacDonald and the Komets will look to get back on the winning side of things tonight at Toledo after back-to-back losses over the weekend.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Justin MacDonald of the Komets makes a break toward the net against Kalamazoo on Wednesday at the Coliseum.
Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Komets left wing Gabriel Desjardins looks to take a shot at the net in the first period against the Walleye at Memorial Coliseum on Sunday.
Friday, January 12, 2018 1:00 am
K's hope to solve scoring slump
Lament numerous missed chances in consecutive losses
JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette
Komets at Toledo
When: 7:15 p.m. today
Where: Huntington Center, Toledo
When: 7:15 p.m. Saturday
Where: Powerade Centre, Brampton, Ontario
Radio: 1190 AM, 107.5 FM
The Komets have lost back-to-back games in regulation time for only the second time all season – they fell 2-1 to the Indy Fuel on Saturday and 4-2 to the Wheeling Nailers on Sunday – and they spent this week mulling all the missed scoring opportunities that cost them those games.
“We're working hard because we want to be in first place because we have a team that deserves it and can be in first place,” Komets all-star rookie forward Artur Tyanulin said.
When asked what the Komets have been working on improving Tyanulin said, smiling: “What we're doing out here, it's a secret.”
Frankly, there is no secret to what they need to do – put the puck in the net after losing two close games.
The Komets failed to score on about eight breakaways. Not surprisingly, they spent part of Thursday's practice at the SportONE/Parkview Icehouse working on them.
“Sometimes, guys have more fun doing that drill, but we need to be a little more businesslike with it,” said coach Gary Graham, whose Komets (21-11-2) have lost three of their last four games heading into tonight's road game against the Toledo Walleye (21-10-3).
After losing five of six games to the Walleye last season, then falling to Toledo in a five-game second-round playoff series, the Komets have dominated the series this season. The Komets have a 5-1-0 record against the Walleye this season that includes victories in the last four meetings, the most recent being the 3-0 victory Dec. 31 at Memorial Coliseum.
Shawn Szydlowski has six goals and 10 points in six games this season against Toledo, which has a one-point lead over the Komets for the Central Division lead, and Garrett Thompson has three goals and nine points. Michael Houser has a 5-1-0 record with a .916 save percentage and a shutout.
For Toledo, Tyler Barnes has one goal and seven points in the season series.
Matej Machovsky has seen most of the work in net, going 0-3-1 with a .883 SP, while all-star Pat Nagle is 1-1-0 with a .894 SP against his former team.
Toledo isn't prone to giving up too many breakaways; it's defense is ranked third allowing 2.65 goals per game. So the Komets, who have the top-ranked offense with 3.94 goals per game, have to capitalize when they get them.
“After you lose a couple close games, we probably should be practicing breakaways more. We did at the end of practice (Thursday),” Graham said. “We had about four breakaways in each of those losses and if we put one of those in, it would be a different story.”
If there's something else that has been hobbling the Komets, it's been their power play, which ranks 10th in the ECHL at 18.2 percent efficiency, and is 1 for 13 in its last four games.
“You have to realize the importance of how you can win those one-goal games. The power play has got to be better. And obviously, when we get our scoring chances, we've got to be bearing down,” said Graham, whose Komets take on the Brampton Beast (14-16-3) on Saturday at Brampton, Ontario.
The Komets will be without forward Zac Larraza at Toledo and Brampton, as he serves his two-game ECHL suspension for shooting the puck into the stands at Wheeling after he was given a penalty for high-sticking.