Josh MacDonald's shot hit off the iron and stayed out. Jamie Schaafsma's ticked off the post and bounced in.
That seems to be the story of the season right now for the Quad-City Mallards.
Despite playing right with a Fort Wayne team that came in winning 10 of its last 12 games, the Mallards came a bounce short, falling 5-4 in overtime to the Komets, their sixth straight loss. The Mallards did collect their first point since Dec. 2 in the game.
"That's the way the cookie crumbles," head coach Phil Axtell said. "We've got to stay positive. We made strides, and we've got to build off that."
Indeed, the Mallards looked more than capable Wednesday in their first game at the TaxSlayer Center since Nov. 24, taking the lead three times, including a two-goal lead in the second period.
The Mallards also held a two-goal lead in Fort Wayne back on Dec. 9, only to fall 5-3.
Just like that night, the Komets found ways to tie the game and send it into overtime, where Schaafsma's goal came after the Mallards lost an offensive-zone face-off, leading to a Fort Wayne rush, and the Komets captain's shot ricocheted off the post and past Quad-City goaltender Matt O'Connor at the 2-minute, 43-second mark of the overtime.
O'Connor was reassigned to the Mallards on Wednesday from the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals by the NHL's Nashville Predators and made 42 saves.
Schaafsma's goal came less than a minute after MacDonald found himself all alone, but his shot caromed to the side boards instead of into the net.
"It's obviously no fun. Over the past few weeks we've been in games. We're just not finishing the full 60, and it's biting us right now," said MacDonald, who had a goal and an assist in the game. "I came down, had a chance, an unlucky bounce, and then they go down on score. I don't want to make excuses. We've just got to be better."
Kyle Bigos put the Mallards up 1-0 in the first period, burying a shot from the point through traffic and past Garrett Bartus for his first goal of the season.
Mason Baptista tied the game just seven seconds into a power play in the second period, capitalizing on a face-off win from the Komets to beat O’Connor at 4:18.
The Mallards answered back, with Triston Grant scoring his first goal of the season since signing with the Mallards on Tuesday. Grant last scored on March 31 with the Rapid City Rush.
The Mallards looked to take a commanding lead when Ryan McGrath tipped home a shot from Sam Warning to put the Mallards up 3-1 at 12:41, but Fort Wayne flexed its muscles.
Another face-off win in the Mallards’ zone led to a goal from Garrett Thompson, the puck going in off his skate past O’Connor at 15:18 then, after just completing a penalty kill, Louick Marcotte rang a shot off the post and in to tie the game 3-3 at 17:57 in the second period.
MacDonald scored his goal on the power play at 9:10 in the third period, but Artur Tyanulin scored just 44 seconds later to retie the game.
It doesn't get easier for the Mallards, who host Cincinnati on Friday at 7:05 p.m. The Cyclones are 3-0-0 this year against Quad-City and have outscored the Mallards 15-5.
The Mallards continue to hope the little things they keep improving on will pay off in the end, and that maybe the bounces will start going their way.
"I think we took big strides this week and just have to correct our mistakes and keep getting better and take another stride in the right direction," Axtell said. "We have to execute, we have to follow the game plan and all be on the same page. It can't be four of the five (players on the ice). It has to be five of the five."