The Toledo Walleye were about 12 minutes from ending a dubious stretch of hockey. Taylor Matson made the Walleye wait a little longer to reach that goal.
Matson scored a pair of third-period goals, including the game-winner with 1:44 left in the third period, to lift Orlando to a 4-3 win over Toledo. Matson’s game-winner Saturday at Huntington Center spoiled Aaron Clarke’s two-goal effort and handed the Walleye their eighth straight loss.
“I think we were working hard and working smart,” Clarke said of the third. “That goal, whether it was a bad bounce or there was some lost coverage, it’s not one guy’s fault but we’ve got to take care of the d-zone in the last four minutes, myself included. I was responsible out there, and he got a puck and beat us to the net.”
Now, the Walleye have the next six days off not only to gather themselves and wait for a chance to earn their first win since Feb. 7. The Walleye don’t play again until next Saturday against Greenville at home.
“We’ve been on the road for [seven of the last eight] games until this weekend and I think it’s just a good opportunity for guys to refresh and get ready," said Clarke, who tied the game at 3-3 with 4:40 left in the third. "Don’t think about hockey for a couple days and come back and get back to work on Tuesday.”
The Walleye struggled to create scoring chances on the power play and finished 0 for 5 against Orlando.
“We couldn’t generate, even to get set up,” Walleye coach Nick Vitucci said. “They pressured us so much, all over the ice and it was really the first time we’ve seen that. We tried making some changes during the game just to try to get us easier entry so we could set up, but they squashed everything we did.”
Bobby Shea gave the Walleye a 1-0 lead 28 seconds into the game, but with 43.8 seconds left in the first, Orlando’s Scott Tanski tied the game at 1-1 on a wrist shot from the right circle.
Clarke gave the Walleye a 2-1 lead at 13:47 and with 47.6 seconds left in the second, Toledo goalie Mac Carruth (35 saves) stopped a shot from Solar Bears forward Mickey Lang, then fell backward onto the puck as it began to trickle towards the goalmouth to preserve Toledo’s 2-1 lead going into the third.
Tyler Murovich tied the game at 2 at 7:40 of the third and Matson’s shorthanded goal four minutes later gave Orlando its first lead, 3-2.
“We wanted to play our positions defensively and try to eliminate where they’re able to have long puck possession in our zone,” Vitucci said of the third. “We tried to keeping shots to the perimeter and we did a good job of doing that, but ultimately, that’s a team that’s playing very well right now, they’re very confident.”