CINCINNATI – Cincinnati goalie Michael Houser left the Walleye shaking their heads again tonight as the rookie netminder led the Cyclones to a 5-2 playoff win over Toledo.
Cincinnati seized a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven, opening-round ECHL series. Houser, who has won all three games for the Cyclones, finished with 35 saves at U.S. Bank Arena.
The Cyclones scored a power play goal to go up 1-0 with 1:03 left in first period. Charles-Olivier Roussel scored on a rebound.
Toledo then evened the game on Max Nicastro's one timer. Travis Novak made a perfect cross-ice pass across the top of the crease and Houser could not stop Nicastro's quick shot. Toledo tied it at 1 at the 13:01 mark of second period.
But Cincinnati immediately regained a one-goal lead on Josh Birkholtz's first goal of the playoffs. It took the Cyclones just 1:27 to go back up 2-1 with 11:34 left in second.
The Cyclones then took a 3-1 lead as Mathieu Aubin scored on a rebound. The puck took a strange bounce toward Simpson on dump in with 12:40 remaining in the game and Aubin tallied the critical goal.
Cincinnati then seized a 4-1 lead on Josh Birkholz's wraparound goal just 75 seconds later.
Walleye forward Byron Froese scored with 44 seconds left in the game before Cincinnati's Brian O'Hanley scored an empty net goal with 23.7 seconds left.
Toledo goalie Kent Simpson finished with 24 saves.
Cincinnati has a chance to clinch the series at home on Friday night. The Cyclones will go for the sweep at 7:35 p.m. at U.S. Bank Arena.
Toledo lost the first two games of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at home last weekend. The Walleye lost 2-1 in double overtime on Friday and then 5-2 in Game 2 on Saturday.