It was another hard day’s night for Ivan Kulbakov.
And just like that old Beatles song, it’s fair to assume the Quad-City Mallards goaltender will be sleeping like a log after what he did this weekend.
Kulbakov followed up his 57-save performance from Friday night with another gem Saturday night, making 46 saves to lead the Mallards to a 3-2 overtime win over the Idaho Steelheads on Saturday night at the TaxSlayer Center.
On the weekend, Kulbakov made 103 saves, helping the Mallards come away with four huge points in a weekend where they were thoroughly dominated at times by the Steelheads.
“I think Ivan definitely stole four points for us tonight, he came up huge,” defenseman Kyle Bigos said. “He’s someone we can all rally behind. When we’re at a low point or even at a high point, he’s going to be at his best.”
Sam Warning scored his fifth goal of the season, a power play goal, with 4.8 seconds left in overtime to give the Mallards the win.
“I think I was supposed to be in front of the net, and I just came into the zone last and (defenseman Alexander Kuqali) just threw it over, and I saw there were five or six seconds left on the clock,” Warning said. “I really just tried to throw it on net, and I think it might have hit one of their guys that went down for a blocked shot and squeaked in there.”
Kulbakov picked up in the first period where he left off Friday night, making 17 saves in a scoreless first period. After getting outshot 59-25 Friday night, the Mallards looked destined to make their goaltender work a second night as they mustered just eight shots of their own in the first 20 minutes.
Everything changed in the second period.
Matt Pohlkamp broke the scoreless tie with a power play goal just 2:46 into the second period. After starting the season 0 for 15 on the power play, the Mallards have scored three goals on the man advantage in the last two games and were 3-for-8 on the weekend.
“I told them we need to get better,” head coach Phil Axtell said. “Whether it’s a baby step or a leap, we need to get better tonight just like we need to get better every day, and I think we did that.”
Josh MacDonald upped the score to 2-0 with his third goal of the season at 6:08, burying a cross-ice feed from Justin Kovacs on one of the best offensive rushes of the night for the Mallards.
“I think for the most part tonight we broke the puck out so much easier,” Warning said. “Our ‘D’ did an unbelievable job, forwards came back for them. One of the big things we’re trying to do right now is talk to each other on the ice. It’s so much easier on the ice when everyone’s talking.”
Unfortunately for the Mallards, the Steelheads finally broke through against Kulbakov shortly after.
Mitch Moroz scored at 11:14, and then Steve McParland scored a power play goal off the face off to tie the game at 15:01.
But from then on, Kulbakov was spotless once again, stopping several shots with his mask and taking a lot of punishment from the hard-checking Steelheads.
The win is the second straight for the Mallards, who are now back to .500 at 3-3-0 on the season.
“It’s huge; you can’t make the playoffs at the start of the season, but you can lose it,” Warning said. “We started 1-3, played some good teams, but I think everyone in the locker room believed in what we had in here, and we showed it this weekend.”
Motte wins in Chicago: Quad-City Mallards goaltender C.J. Motte earned his first win of the season in his first start with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. Motte led the Wolves to a 2-1 win over the Milwaukee Admirals.