After slow starts plagued them in the first two games of the series, Wheeling came out guns a blazing in the opening 20 minutes of game three.
On their first power-play of the night, Paul Crowder (4th) raced the puck from his own zone all the way down ice, where he would rifle a wrister past Ryan Nie 4:44 into the first period to give the Nailers their first power-play goal of the series (1-for-11) and a 1-0 lead. Three of Crowder’s four goals in the Kelly Cup playoffs have been scored while on the power-play, the tally also gives Crowder the team-lead in man-advantage tallies.
Wheeling extended their lead late in the period, when Doug Rogers (3rd) deflected a Brandon DeFazio slap shot with 1:40 remaining in the period.
The 2-0 deficit by the K-Wings marked the first time in these playoffs that they have trailed entering the second period.
Responding early in the second period, Kalamazoo cut the Wheeling lead in half with a goal from former Nailer, Aaron Clarke (3rd) 2:23 into the stanza. Earning an assist on the goal as Dean Strong, who extended his point streak to four games with the helper.
Andrew Lord reclaimed a two-goal lead for Wheeling midway in the period finishing a two-on-on odd man rush for this first goal of the playoffs.
Scoring a pair of goals in final five minutes of the period, Sam Ftorek (4th, 5th) pulled the K-Wings even at 3-3. Ftorek scored his first on a backhanded rebounder 15:21 into the period and then while on the power-play, the defenseman lit the lamp on wrister with 17 second remaining in the frame.
Trent Daavettila received an assist on Ftorek’s first goal of the period, which pushed his assist streak to nine games and his point streak to 10 games.
The power-play goal from Ftorek gives the K-Wings a man-advantage in 10 of their 11 games of these playoffs.
Pulling ahead for good Tim Crowder (3rd) scored the eventual game-winner on a backhander 9:50 into the third period.
Mickael Bedard (3rd) added some insurance with less than five minutes remaining in regulation by finishing a breakaway by beating Nie in a race for the puck above the circles and scoring into the empty net.
For Game Stats: http://echl.com/stats/official-game-report.php?game_id=8779.
Kalamazoo and Wheeling will continue with the Eastern Conference Finals this Saturday, May 7th with a 7:35 p.m. encounter with game four at the WesBanco Arena.
If necessary, the K-Wings will return home on Tuesday, May 10th for a 7 p.m. face-off in game six of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals versus the Nailers.
Catch all the K-Wings games, home and away, on the K-Wings Radio Network (95.9 FM WLKM & on kwings.com). Join the “Voice of the K-Wings” Mike Modugno for all 72 regular season games plus the playoffs. Pre-game coverage begins with the Kalsee Credit Union Pre-Game Show 15 minutes prior to face-off. For the most complete coverage of the K-Wings from the opening face-off to the final buzzer and the Discover Kalamazoo Post-Game Show, keep your radio tuned this season to the K-Wings Radio Network.
This story came courtesy of Mike Modugno at the Kalamazoo Wings.