Walleye forward Maxim Shalunov speaks very little English but the smile he wore after scoring two goals on Sunday spoke volumes.
Shalunov, a rookie from Chelyabinsk, Russia, tallied two pivotal goals to help Toledo snap a four-game losing streak. The Walleye fell behind 2-0 but tallied four unanswered goals to rally for a 4-2 comeback win over Greenville.
Shalunov scored his first goal to tie it at 2 with 6.7 seconds left in the first period. The 20-year-old then gave the Walleye a much needed cushion with his second goal to put his team up 4-2 with 7:51 left.
“I'm more happy that we won,” Shalunov managed to say with a thick Russian accent. “When you score, you feel great. You want more, more.”
Forward Aaron Clarke also scored two goals to salvage a three-game homestand that saw Toledo go 1-2-0. Clarke scored the game winner late in the second period.
Clarke and Shalunov both had chances to post hat tricks after Greenville pulled its goalie with 2:38 left. Shalunov just missed an empty net with 1:43 left.
“Shally had two great chances,” Clarke said. “Usually I don't go for those but the guys on the ice were yelling shoot, shoot. That would have been a perk. But it's more important to get the two points.”
David Gilbert had two assists before an announced crowd of 4,378 at the Huntington Center.
Toledo goalie Mac Carruth (5-9-0), who made his fifth straight start, finished with 25 saves.
Both teams were playing a third game in three nights. The Walleye (13-22-3) got back to the .500 mark at home (9-9-0). Greenville (20-18-3) had lost 6-1 at Evansville on Saturday.
Toledo fell behind 2-0 midway through the first period and is 1-14-1 this season when trailing after one period. Yet Clarke and Shalunov responded to tie it.
“Unfortunately, it hasn't been the identity of our team throughout the year [to rally],” Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said. “When they do bring it, they are fun to be around. We may not be the most talented team in the league but if you work hard anything can happen.”
With the game tied at 2, the Walleye capitalized on a 5-on-3 advantage. Clarke's power play goal gave the Walleye a one-goal edge. Shalunov then worked his way around a defender and scored his second of the game for a two-goal cushion with 7:51 left.
Shalunov, a 2011 fourth-round draft choice of the Chicago Blackhawks, was sent to Toledo from Rockford of the American Hockey League in late December. He has six goals and one assist in 10 games for Toledo.
“He has world class abilities,” Vitucci said. “But when he doesn't keep his feet moving he has a lazy body language. He made a conscious effort to move his feet and he's a fun player to watch when he does.”
The chippy game included 66 minutes of penalties. Toledo had six power plays and scored on one of them. Greenville went 1 of 4 with the man advantage.
Toledo could not take advantage of undisciplined play by Greenville in the second as the Walleye had another two-man advantage for 1:43. At one point, there were five players in Greenville's penalty box.
The Walleye gave up a goal 3:53 into game. Greenville then took a 2-0 lead with a power-play goal as Carruth was screened on Mike Marcou's shot.
Clarke tallied an unassisted goal to get Toledo on the board. Playing in his ninth game since being acquired in a trade from Kalamazoo, Clarke intercepted a pass and let loose with a slapper to make it 2-1 with 6:39 left in first.
“When they brought me here they said they wanted to get me back to where I was offensively,” he said. “I'm really just trying to work hard and be a plus-player. Fortunately I've been able to find the net.”
FISH TALES: The Walleye will be without forward Aaron Bogosian who was fined and suspended for his cross checking penalty into boards on Saturday night. … The Walleye scored on half of their shots (two of four) in the first. … Toledo was playing without four of its top six scorers, including their three leading scorers due to call ups to the AHL.
Contact Mark Monroe at: email@example.com, 419-724-6354, or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.