Toledo's Randy Rowe checks Evansville's Daniel Tetrault into the boards during the first period at the Huntington Center on Saturday. The Walleye won 4-0.
The Blade/Andy Morrison
The Walleye sent a season-high 46 shots on net on Saturday night but they clung to a one-goal lead until a late explosion.
Toledo had 18 shots in each of the first two periods but only forward Willie Coetzee was able to beat Evansville goalie Paul Dainton.
The Walleye erupted for three goals over the final 2:18 to blank the IceMen 4-0 before a crowd of 5,859 at the Huntington Center.
Walleye goalie Jordan Pearce got his first shutout of the season, finishing with 27 saves.
“It's icing on the cake,” Pearce said. “I played well and had a good first period. It's a team effort. There was a real commitment in our ‘D’ zone.”
Dainton was strong until the end, finishing with 42 saves.
“Their goaltender played exceptional,” Pearce said. “He made some great saves. I think it's fun to play in a game like this. I made a couple big saves in the second but I wasn't getting pounded like he was.”
Pearce protected a precarious one-goal lead until Travis Novak scored with 2:18 left. Coetzee tacked on an empty-net goal with 1:37 left. Terry Broadhurst added another with 13 seconds remaining.
With 5:56 left in first period, Coetzee scored on a one timer on a quick pass from Joey Martin. Coetzee leads the team with 23 points with 12 goals and 11 assists.
“We created offense by working hard and it showed by how many shots we had tonight,” Coetzee said. “[Dainton] was really good. But we broke through and broke the seal late.”
The Walleye had 36 shots on net through two periods with 18 in each. Their season-high for shots in a period was 18 and they did it twice tonight.
Toledo came into the game outshooting its opponents 787-684 and outshot the IceMen 46-27.
“All year we've shown offense and creativity and the ability to get good scoring opportunities,” Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said. “When [Dainton] gets going, he's really good. He's hot.”
Dainton had two great glove saves in the second period. Moments after he made a great glove save, Pearce (7-3-0) countered with a glove save of his own in the second period.
“There are a lot goaltenders in this league coming down from the [AHL],” Pearce said. “So every night it's a battle. Obviously you are a little bit nervous trying to get the shutout".
Martin and Kyle Rogers each had two assists.
The Walleye (15-10-1) moved into first place in the North Division, moving one point ahead of Cincinnati, which did not play on Saturday.
“Teams are streaky in the division and there's a lot of parity,” Vitucci said.
It was the fourth meeting between the teams and the Walleye had lost all three previous match ups. The teams meet 10 times this season.
“We've erased that mind block we had against them," Vitucci said.
Toledo is 8-5-0 at home and had won four straight at the downtown arena.
“We'd been playing very well at home, we just weren't getting the results,” Vitucci said.
Toledo hosts Florida today at 5 p.m.
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org,419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.