The Walleye couldn't make up ground on first-place Cincinnati Friday night as the Cyclones and their goalie Robert Mayer stifled Toledo 1-0.
The Walleye lost their fourth straight game as Mayer was perfect, finishing with 27 saves.
Toledo goaltender Alec Richards also played solidly, giving up one goal on 21 shots. But the Walleye (25-20-4) have lost seven of their last nine games and remain in last place.
Toledo had a 5-on-3 man advantage late in the game for 1:20 but managed just one shot. The Cyclones cleared the puck four times as a crowd of 6,296 grew restless and vocally irritated late in the game.
"Obviously that was a golden chance we had to tie the game up and it's frustrating," forward Scooter Smith said. "But I thought we played a really good game. We kept them to one. We had a lot of chances that should have gone in. You have to give it to their goaltender. He played well."
Barret Ehgoetz scored the lone goal in the second period. It was his team-high 46th point. The Cyclones (32-17-1), which have won five straight and seven of eight, solidified their hold on first place with 65 points.
Toledo, which has 54 points, hosts second-place Kalamazoo at 7 tonight.
"Anytime you play teams in your division, it's key to get wins," Smith said. "We have to start moving up the standings and we have to start [today]."
Toledo coach Nick Vitucci said he thought both teams played well.
"It was a good playoff-type game," Vitucci said. "There was great goaltending on both ends. There were great scoring opportunities and good energy."
But Vitucci said he was angry that his team did not cash in on the two-man advantage with 6:06 left in the game. "That was the turning point," he said. "We had guys that didn't come off [the ice]. We had a play drawn up for the next group of guys and they never had the opportunity. It was selfish and I'm not happy with that."
Mayer made two great stops early in the first period to prevent the Walleye from scoring first. Evan Rankin fed Smith with a breakaway pass, but Mayer stopped the attempt. Two minutes later Rankin and Smith hooked up again on a great scoring chance.
Richards then equaled Mayer moments later with two exceptional saves on a scramble in front of him.
Richards then came up with an amazing stick save, with the Cyclones on the power play. Each goaltender made 10 stops in the scoreless first period.
Just seconds after Toledo killed a third power play, Ehgoetz took advantage of a bad bounce in front and scored the game's only goal. Ehgoetz, who has seven goals and 13 points against Toledo, gave his team a 1-0 lead three minutes into the second period.
The Walleye finished
0 of 4 on the power play, while Cincinnati was 0 of 6.
The Cyclones hit the cross bar on their fourth power play. Toledo then could not cash in on a wild scramble in front of Cincinnati's goal mouth. Smith was later robbed by Mayer who made a quick glove save.
Mayer then made another spectacular save on Adam Keefe who had a quick break with Chris Robertson.
Richards made a key stop early in the third on the Cyclone's fifth power play.
"Richie played really well for us and he deserved to win," Smith said. "We just have to bear down on our chances and put the puck in the net. We have to take the positives from tonight. The standings have tightened up a lot and we're falling back. It's nothing that we're taking lightly. We need to put some games together here."
FISH TALES: F Maxime Tanguay, Toledo's leading scorer, was recalled to Rockford after last night's game. … Before last night's game F Derek Nesbitt was recalled to Rockford. Toledo has also signed F John May. … Mayer is ranked 12th in the league with a 2.98 goals against average.
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