The Walleye went from running at top speed to scratching their heads after their game against Trenton Friday night disintegrated into a lopsided landslide.
Toledo entered the contest on a season-best, five-game winning streak and the Walleye scored the first goal to seize an initial 1-0 lead. But it was all Trenton after that as the Devils scored five unanswered to skate away with a 5-1 win.
Toledo (18-19-3) remains last in the North Division after losing to Trenton (15-21-4), which is last in the Atlantic Division. The Walleye outshot the Devils 39-34 but let the early lead disappear in front of a crowd of 5,229 last night at the Huntington Center.
Veteran Randy Rowe, who is playing in his 10th ECHL season, scored his 212th career goal midway through the first. Toledo then had several other golden opportunities to increase that advantage, but Trenton goalie Jeff Lerg made 13 saves and 38 overall.
"We got the first goal there and then we had a few more chances, but we didn't put the puck in the net," Rowe said. "They just kept chipping away and coming back."
The Devils got more confident as the game went on. They broke a three-game losing streak as Ryan Hayes scored twice, while Ryan Ginand and Darcy Zajac each had a goal and an assist.
"We could have had three more there in the first period," Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said. "But Jeff Lerg made some big saves. We had an opportunity to put them away and we didn't. They got more gritty and we got less."
Vitucci said his team was out of sync after three days off for the ECHL all-star break.
"We only had one practice. We were a little out of whack," Vitucci said.
Toledo looks to rebound tonight when it hosts Florida at 7. The teams play again tomorrow at 4 p.m.
"Hopefully, we wiped the cobwebs out," Vitucci said. "Sure this is disappointing, but there is no point in blowing a gasket. This was just a bit of a hiccup."
Rowe extended his point streak to eight games. Rowe has scored six goals and has seven assists during the run.
The Walleye entered the game with the lowest rated power play unit in the ECHL. But Rowe got Toledo on the board with a power play goal. Rowe scored on a one-timer right out in front of the net on a nice pass from Zack Torquato. The Walleye took a 1-0 lead 10:28 into the first period.
The Devils pulled even when Jeff Prough scored while his team had a two-man advantage with 2:47 left in the first. Trenton then went ahead 2-1 midway through the second as Ryan Hayes batted a puck out of midair right in front of the Toledo net.
The Devils grabbed a 3-1 edge when they scored on their first shot of the third period. Trenton then went up 4-1 on Zajac's power play goal and extended it to 5-1 when Ginand took advantage of a turnover by Sebastien Piche with 7:15 left.
Toledo goalie Jimmy Spratt (29 saves) was strong early and was particularly sharp in the second to keep it tied. But he gave up two on the first three shots of the final period.
"It put us a step back not being on the ice for three days," Rowe said. "It's a game that slipped away and those points are huge. We have to get the next two games."
FISH TALES: Every Toledo skater had at least one shot on goal. …The game featured two fights. Moments after the Walleye scored, a fight broke out between Toledo's Scott Fletcher and Myles Stoesz. The lengthy battle featured few landed punches. Trenton's Darcy Zajac later squared off with Tyler Doig in a second-period scuffle. …Last season, the Walleye's longest winning streak was six. …The Walleye are now 12-5-1 when scoring first.
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6354.