The rich got richer and the poor got poorer on Friday night at the Huntington Center where the last-place Walleye fell to division-leading Cincinnati.
Toledo got plenty of chances, outshooting the Cyclones 41-27, but Cincinnati ultimately prevailed 3-1.
The Walleye (14-23-3), who are in the basement of the North Division, fell 23 points behind the Cyclones (26-12-2) in the standings. They also saw their modest two-game winning streak snapped before an announced crowd of 4,529.
Toledo is now 0-4-1 against the Cyclones.
“You find at times that teams at the top of the heap find ways to win those type of games,” Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said.
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view photos of the game.
“It was a good hockey game. Unfortunately we found a way to lose it once we drew even. But I thought we played hard and generated offense.”
Toledo goalie Jared Coreau made his first start for the Walleye since Dec. 7 and finished with 24 saves. Cyclone goalie Joe Howe was strong throughout and had 40 stops.
Toledo rookie Maxim Shalunov tied the game at 1 with 9:30 left in regulation.
Shalunov skated up the left wing and beat Howe with a long wrister for his eighth goal.
Just 1:08 later, Cincinnati regained the lead as Brian Nugent scored his second of the night to put the Cyclones up 2-1 with 8:22 left.
Jonathan Hazen gave the Cyclones a 3-1 advantage with 6:29 left.
He pounced on a loose puck behind Coreau in the crease.
“That is the mark of a first-place team and we are trying to learn to play ourselves into those positions,” Vitucci said.
Captain Kyle Rogers, who played in his 250th game for the Walleye, is now tied with Andrew Williamson for fourth in most games played in a Toledo uniform.
The top three are Rick Judson (455), Robert Thorpe (364), and Nick Parillo (262), who all played for the Storm.
“It's exciting but there are a lot of people that are accountable for the 250 with the staff, trainers, and equipment [manager],” said Rogers, who had an ice bag on his shoulder after the game.
“It's a hard league. It's not an easy game for sure. You have to battle through injuries. It's the little things that add up.”
Cincinnati took a 1-0 lead exactly six minutes into the second period as Nugent — who was traded on Thursday from Las Vegas — scored his first.
In the scoreless first period, Toledo outshot Cincinnati 11-7.
Coreau (1-6-3) had been called up to Grand Rapids and started in five games for the Griffins (0-4-0 with a 4.39 goals against average).
“A couple of those [goals] he would love to have wanted back,” Vitucci said.
After hosting Elmira on today at 7:15, the Walleye will play five straight games on the road.
FISH TALES: The organization held a moment of silence prior to the game in honor of firefighters James Dickman and Stephen Machcinski who died in the line of duty on Sunday. The team wore special decals on their helmets. The players also signed two jerseys that were raffled off to benefit the Toledo Fire and Rescue Foundation. ... F Alden Hirschfeld, who finished with five shots, had three straight in a span of 10 seconds early in the third period. … D Russ Sinkewich (1 G, 10 A in 21 games) returned to the lineup after a call up with the American Hockey League’s Texas Stars. … At the end of the second period, Toledo trailed by one goal but had a 23-21 edge in shots. Late in the middle period, Toledo's Aaron Clarke had a wide open net but his shot tipped off of the crossbar.