The Quad-City Mallards played with a new-found resiliency Friday night.
The team was still plagued by the turnovers and inopportune penalties that cost it in Wednesday's loss to the Utah Grizzlies, but this time those mistakes didn't cost the Mallards the game.
The Mallards outslugged the Grizzlies with a 7-6 shootout win, snapping a four-game losing streak.
"With having such a young group of guys here, there's no quit," forward Jamie Tardif said. "Wednesday we all know that wasn't our best game. This time of year, at the end of the day we just want to go out and have fun."
Tardif won the game with a fake-out of Utah goaltender Joel Rumpel in the fourth round, not shooting the puck and instead letting it slide through the five-hole of Rumpel.
The goal was reminiscent of one scored by Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov at this year's NHL All-Star Game
"That's where I saw it the first time," Tardif said. "Ask the goalies, I practice it all the time in practice. I saw it on the All-Star Game, it worked once (before), and I got lucky and it worked again."
The Mallards came out firing on the night with Alex Globke burying a shot past Utah goalie Sean Maguire just 43 seconds into the game.
After Utah tied the game with a power-play goal, Kyle Bigos buried a slap shot off a face-off win at 11:27, then Jake Marchment answered for Utah at 17:59 to send the two teams into the first intermission tied 2-2.
The Mallards’ special teams struck early in the second period. Given 68 seconds of a 5-on-3, the Mallards couldn’t score on the first penalty but Tristan King buried it just as Utah got a man back to give the Mallards a 3-2 lead at 1:44.
Matt Pohlkamp scored at 3:29, burying a backhand past Maguire, chasing the Utah goaltender as the Grizzlies pulled him for Joel Rumpel, who beat the Mallards on Wednesday.
Ryan Walters cut the Quad-City lead to one goal, scoring five seconds into a power play after a roughing call on Tardif.
Tardif made up for his penalty, scoring his ninth goal of the season at 6:32 to give the Mallards a 5-3 lead they held through two periods.
"At the end of the day, we're going to get everyone's best right now, whether you're fighting for first place or a playoff spot," Tardif said. "We've got to be ready, and I think tonight was a good step, but you wake up tomorrow and it's a new day."
That lead quickly vanished as Quad-City defenseman Willie Raskob committed a bad turnover, passing the puck from behind his net right to Walters in the slot for an easy goal 55 seconds into the period.
Just 23 seconds later, Ryan Misiak scored to tie the game.
Brayden Low gave the Mallards the lead back, taking a stretch pass from Alexander Kuqali and burying a breakaway goal at 2:38 to move into a tie with Sam Warning for the team lead with 16 goals.
Brad Navin scored a power-play goal, Utah's third of the night, at 11:17 to send the game to overtime.
"I'm really happy they kept going and battled," Mallards head coach Phil Axtell said. "They found a way and that's what counts."
Despite all the goals allowed, Mallards goaltender Ivan Kulbakov was at his best in the extra time, denying Misiak on a pair of chances and again making some big saves to bail out his team after bad turnovers.
All told, he made 35 saves and stopped two of the four shots in the shootout.
"He competes," Low said. "He's a backbone in there much like (fellow goaltender C.J. Motte, currently in the AHL), their compete levels are through the roof, and that's what you need in a professional goaltender. Whenever he lets a shaky one in we know he's going to bounce back, and we need to do a better job of helping him out."