TOLEDO, Ohio — The first period is quickly becoming an early-season problem for the Quad-City Mallards.

The Mallards gave up the first goal just 91 seconds into the game and fell 3-0 to the Toledo Walleye on Saturday night at the Huntington Center. It's the Mallards' second straight loss and third in their first four games.

The Mallards fell behind on Kevin Tansey's shot from the high slot early in the game and gave up two more goals in the first period to fall behind 3-0.

In all four of the Mallards' games this year the team has surrendered the first goal.

"It's got to start in the room," head coach Phil Axtell said. "The leaders in the room, we have to be better. We have to be better at the start, and we've got to be ready. Somehow they have to figure out how to get focused, and it starts in that room."

Simon Denis scored a power play goal at 17:45, and A.J. Jenks capped the scoring with 2.2 seconds left in the first period as a shot from Christian Hilbrich's kicked off Jenks' skate past Mallards rookie goaltender Ivan Kulbakov.

"It hurt for sure," Axtell said. "We didn't even get a goal, we hit two pipes, one or two dribbled across the goal line. We're getting chances, we've just got to find a way to get them in."

Jenks' goal came shorthanded, another issue that has plagued the Mallards through their first four games. They've already allowed two shorthanded goals and are now 0 for 15 on the power play after going 0 for 5 Saturday night.

"There's a lot of work to be done. A lot of work to be done," Axtell said. "There were some strides there at the end."

Pat Nagle made 23 saves for his first shutout of the season with Toledo while Kulbakov made 37 saves on the night, a good sign with all-star goaltender C.J. Motte up with the AHL's Chicago Wolves for the foreseeable future.

"He played lights out," Axtell said. "The first goal was tipped, the second one we could have got out, the third one went off the guy's skate and we didn't hustle, we weren't back fast enough. He was unbelievable. He was our best player.

"It makes me have confidence in him. Gives us a chance every night."


Sports reporter for the Quad-City Times