Cincinnati scored four straight power play goals, including two momentum-swinging markers early and late in the second period, and went on to blast the Walleye 5-2 on Saturday night.
The Cyclones seized a commanding two-game lead in the best of seven, opening-round ECHL playoff series. The Walleye dropped two at home in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, which shifts to Cincinnati for three games next week.
David Pacan tallied a hat trick before a crowd of 4,191 at the Huntington Center. Pacan broke a scoreless deadlock on Cincinnati's first shot of the second period. Taylor Ellington then scored with 14.2 seconds left in the period.
“That's not the time you want to get scored on,” Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said. “You always want to end a period strong and start a period strong. We had to think about it for 18 minutes during the break.”
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Matt Smyth added another power play goal with 12:20 left in the game. Pacan scored his third to put Cincinnati up 5-0 with 10:44 remaining.
Toledo's Joey Martin ended Cincinnati goalie Michael Houser's shutout bid with 8:24 left. Byron Froese also scored for the Walleye with 30 seconds remaining.
Toledo was outshot 31-28, including 18-5 in the second period.
“I thought once they got that early goal we were flat for seven or eight minutes,” Vitucci said. “And then we picked it up again. We got on our heels and got away from what we did in the first period. We tried to be a little too creative.”
Cincinnati then seized a 3-0 lead as Pacan scored his second of the night 1:12 into the third on a power play goal. The Cyclones had seven power plays.
“We couldn't ask for anything better,” Cincinnati coach Jarrod Skalde said. “But that's still a good hockey team over there. Their goaltending is solid. They are physical. They will regroup, and we have to be ready for them on Wednesday.”
Walleye goalie Kent Simpson, who was pulled from game in the third, finished with 24 saves.
“I got him out of there because we let down in front of him and it wasn't fair to him,” Vitucci said.
Cincinnati defeated Toledo 2-1 in double overtime in the series opener on Friday. The teams meet for Game 3 on Wednesday at U.S. Bank Arena. The Walleye will have to win at least two of three to extend the series to a potential sixth game in Toledo on April 16.
“We've had success in their barn,” Walleye forward Trevor Parkes said. “That's the good news.”
In a scoreless first period, Toledo outshot the Cyclones 10-6.
Parkes had a chance to get the game's first goal but Houser (26 saves) got just a piece of his shot and it trickled wide.
“We definitely had chances tonight,” Parkes said. “Those things happen in hockey. The bounces didn't go our way in the first. But that's hockey.”
The Walleye also had several odd man rushes. But a puck hit the post and others went wide several times for Toledo.
“If one or two of those goes in for us, it's a different mindset,” Vitucci said. “But you tip your hat to Houser.”
Both teams came out with good jump despite playing for three and a half hours on Friday. Parkes’ shot got by Houser but it tipped off the post and went wide. Willie Coetzee set up the play with a check to get free with Parkes.
Tyler Brenner’s shot then trickled through the crease and Toledo had two more odd man rushes, but shots by Parkes and Novak went wide.
Simpson, who made 36 saves in Friday's loss, made the best save of series in the second period. The Cyclones had an empty net to fire into, but Simpson slid over to make an incredible glove save to stop the backdoor chance.
But Pacan beat Simpson with a perfectly placed laser shot over his catching glove. Mike Embach, who scored both of the Cyclones’ goals on Friday, set it up with a pass.
Froese then had two quality chances for the Walleye but both went wide, including a wrap-around chance. The Cyclones then took a 2-0 lead on Ellington's power play goal with 14.2 seconds left in second after Walleye defenseman Phil Oreskovic was called for closing his hand on the puck, a delay of game penalty.
Cincinnati went up 2-0 after two periods and outshot the Walleye 24-15.
The Cyclones scored five unanswered goals and the crowd directed their anger at referee Chris Pitoscia. At one point a fan threw a box of popcorn on the ice, delaying the game.
“It got out of hand unfortunately,” Vitucci said. “Emotions got the best of us.
“Nobody in our locker room does not believe we can’t go down and win three games there.”
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.