Walleye coach Nick Vitucci had a pick-me-up consolation locker room speech all prepared after his team had been stifled by Chicago for 59 minutes on Tuesday night.
Toledo had outshot the Express 36-19 yet the Walleye still trailed 1-0. Forward Nick Oslund scored with 19.3 seconds left in regulation to tie the game and send it to overtime.
Defenseman Ben Youds, who was playing in his first game with the Walleye scored the game winner on a power-play goal with 49 seconds left in overtime to knock off Chicago 2-1 to the delight of a sell-out crowd of 7,538 at the Huntington Center.
PHOTO GALLERY: Toledo Walleye vs. Chicago Express
“It was a great finish,” Vitucci said. “I can’t tell you how happy I am for our whole effort. You can play a fantastic game and sometimes not get rewarded for it. Up until 19 seconds were left, my post-game speech was how happy I was with how they played. But boy that felt good.”
Oslund scored on a rebound during a scramble in front of the Express net to knot it at 1 in the waning moments.
“I could see the puck sitting on the goalie’s pad and I knew he didn’t have control off it,” Oslund said. “Then the ref started pointing [that it was a good goal] and everyone went nuts. There was a melee and it was good to see the light go on.
“It was a great crowd tonight. You can’t ask for anything better than that.”
Youds let loose with a blistering slap shot from the point for the winner. Youds, who was assigned to Toledo from Rockford of the AHL earlier on Tuesday, said he had not skated in five days due to the Christmas break.
“It was big. It came down to the wire,” said Youds, who had a game-high six shots on goal. “It was a fun game to play in. The emotions were pretty high. You want to play in games like this.”
Toledo finished with a 42-21 advantage in shots on goal. The Walleye (13-13-1) pulled to the .500 mark for the first time this season.
“It was a huge two points to get back to .500 and hopefully we get on a roll and not look back,” Oslund said.
The Walleye had gone 0-of-8 on the power play, including two chances with 5-on-3 advantages in the third period.
Chicago goalie Paul Dainton, who finished with 40 saves, played well enough to earn a shutout.
“Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the goaltender,” Vitucci said. “We had phenomenal opportunities. That could have been six or seven goals.”
Walleye goalie Thomas McCollum made 20 saves to capture his fourth win in the last six games.
“On the flip side, look at Tommy McCollum,” Vitucci said. “That was a heck of a goalie duel. That could have been an 8-7 game.”
Instead, the capacity crowd saw neither team score through two periods.
Toledo rookie Joey Martin nearly broke the scoreless tie when he hit the post 4:45 into the third period. Moments later Martin was called for hooking and Phil Rauch was whistled for high sticking giving Chicago a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:37.
The Express (14-12-3) capitalized when Kyle Ostrow scored with four seconds left in the two-man advantage. It was the first shot of the period and Chicago took a 1-0 lead with 13:11 left.
Toledo had a 5-on-3 power play of its own later in the period that lasted 59 seconds. The Walleye also could not cash in on a subsequent two-man advantage that lasted 26 seconds.
“It happens sometimes when you just can’t find the back of the net,” Oslund said. “He was making some unbelievable saves.”
Each team had good chances early in OT before Youds registered the winner. Youds, a rookie, had appeared in 14 games in the AHL and had one goal and three assists with Rockford.
“What a shot,” Vitucci said. “Ben Youds is a heck of a player. He came down here just to get some confidence and some minutes under his belt.”
FISH TALES: It was the third sellout of the year. … Toledo and Chicago have met eight times this season and the Walleye have won the last five. … Matt Krug laid perhaps the biggest hit of the season with a solid, clean check midway through the second period. ...Prior to the game, the Walleye signed former Ohio State goaltender Dustin Carlson. He replaces G Ryan Zapolski who is on the 21-day injured reserve. F Christopher DiDomenico also was returned from a call up to Rockford. … The horn signifying a goal accidentally went off at the midpoint of the game when Bryan Rufenach hit the post.
Contact Mark Monroe at: email@example.com, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.