Man, streaks are hard to maintain.
Wednesday's game had all the makings of a game the Quad-City Mallards would lose, not so much because of poor play, but it just made sense. The Mallards were coming out of the holiday break, Indy had just scored six goals in an 8-6 loss to Fort Wayne the other night, and no matter how much a team struggles, 14 straight losses is really hard to pull off.
You have to think at some point the bounces would go Indy's way, and it just felt like tonight would be the night.
The Mallards did their best to help.
The first period was dominated by the Mallards, and they looked the far better team, but could only put up one goal. As the second period went on, the Fuel started mounting some pressure, and it felt like the Mallards needed at least one more goal to win, even with C.J. Motte playing well in net.
Unfortunately, the Mallards never could pad their lead, and Indy finally broke through.
I will credit the Mallards for responding, but Indy definitely played the third period like a desperate team, and I'd expect nothing less from a team trying to snap a streak of futility that is one of the worst in league history.
However, the Mallards' biggest strength this year has been C.J. Motte, and he came up big in the shootout, keeping the Mallards alive until Alex Petan scored the shootout winner.
It's not a good win by any means for the Mallards, but it's not a bad one. Indy is going to be a very tough team for anyone who plays them while this streak is going. The Fuel will be playing desperate, and the opposition will be tentative for fear of being the team that breaks the streak.
Credit to the Mallards for coming out of the holiday break and getting a win that might have eluded them in years past.
Here are a few other thoughts.
C.J. Motte was incredible, but that's old news by now. He was superb in the shootout, and that shouldn't be glossed over, because he had all the pressure on him each time the Mallards failed to capitalize on their end.
However, I am gaining more confidence in the growth of the team's defensive zone since the start of the season. Early on it was clear Indy's plan of attack was to try and get pucks to the slot and beat Motte with a one-timer or wrist shot. The Mallards consistently got sticks in the passing lanes and broke up several Fuel chances early. That wasn't happening early.
The Fuel upped their pressure throughout the game, but for the most part, the play in the defensive zone was solid. One goal came on a bad pass from Dylan Labbe in the neutral zone which led to a 2-on-1, and the other came because Justin Kovacs lost position on Josh Shalla in the defensive zone. Kovacs' lapse wasn't good, but a small blip on what I felt was a strongly played defensive game.
LaPorte coming on
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It was a slow start to the season for Nolan LaPorte, pointless in his first five games, but the rookie is starting to really come on strong for the Mallards.
He is currently on an eight-game point streak and has three goals and eight assists in that span. He was all over the place Wednesday, scoring the game's first goal and getting several other great looks throughout the night.
It seems LaPorte and Chris Francis are really starting to click, and that could be a big boost for the Mallards. I thought LaPorte was a great addition just before the start of the season, coming out of the Washington Capitals' camp, and he's starting to look like a pretty solid scoring threat.
Monfredo reaches 300
This was defenseman Mike Monfredo's 300th game with the Mallards, and that does deserve mentioning.
In a league where roster turnover is pretty high, it's impressive that Monfredo has been with the Mallards as long as he has. It speaks to his consistency and durability that he's been able to play in so many games, and he's been a very solid player on both ends of the ice.
He's got a little ways to go to catch the all-time Mallards' greats, but if he plays another few seasons here, he might find his name up in the rafters in the iWireless Center at the end of his career.