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In the opening moments of their return to the Huntington Center, the Toledo Walleye immediately appeared to savor the comforts of a home rink.
Less than three minutes into Friday’s game, Trevor Parkes took advantage of a mistake by Kalamazoo goalie Joel Martin and Parkes’ goal appeared to give the Walleye an early boost.
That feel-good moment was short-lived in the Walleye’s 3-1 loss to Kalamazoo.
The Wings answered with two goals in the next seven minutes and after Martin’s early gaffe, the Walleye couldn’t continue to capitalize against the Wings.
Or against Martin.
Kalamazoo’s goalie made 36 saves against the Walleye, playing in their first home game in 19 days. Coincidentally, Martin made 31 saves in the Wings’ 2-1 shootout win Jan. 6 over the Walleye — Toledo’s last game at the Huntington Center before a five-game road trip.
“A couple times we shot the puck at him and there were a couple of odd bounces,” Parkes said of Martin, who stopped 15 shots in the third period.
“It was a little shaky of a start and we kind of took advantage of that, but he shut us down in the third period, and that’s when it counted.”
A stagnant power play added to the Walleye’s woes. Toledo was unable to score on nearly four minutes on the man-advantage early in the third and finished the game 0 for 4.
“We certainly had good opportunities there in the third,” said Walleye coach Nick Vitucci, whose team is 1 for 19 on the power play in its last five games. “We created opportunities, but you’re going to need opportunities, plus a little puck luck, when you’re playing Joel Martin in goal there. You’re forced to try to recover from some of that, and the mental errors, as a result of their three goals. It’s tough to do that against that kid in net.”
Reassigned Friday to Toledo from Grand Rapids of the AHL, Parkes gave the Walleye a 1-0 lead at 2:21 when he stripped Martin of the puck, which got tangled in the goalie’s skates as he attempted to play it, and tapped a shot into an open goal.
Two minutes later, Nick Sirota’s short-range wrist shot beat Toledo goalie Kent Simpson (24 saves) to tie the game at 1-1, and Alexandre Grenier’s pass from the left circle beat a spinning Kyle Rogers and found John Armstrong, who gave the Wings a 2-1 lead at 9:16.
After a scoreless second, Dustin Cloutier’s shorthanded goal at 3:22 gave the Wings a 3-1 lead.
“The puck seemed like it was bouncing off us and it’s got to be stop-and-start hockey,” Parkes said. “We can’t let turnovers happen.”
NOTES: Simpson stopped Armstrong on a penalty shot at 4:36 of the third, after Armstrong was tripped on a breakaway attempt. … Vitucci said after the game that he did not know of the medical status of forward Travis Novak, who had to be helped off the ice midway through the third period after he was hit by a slapshot. … Detroit reassigned forward Andrej Nestrasil to the Walleye from Grand Rapids, and defenseman Erik Spady returned to the Walleye after he was released from his player tryout agreement with Grand Rapids.