Put those brooms back in the cupboard.
Sam Warning scored with 15.2 seconds left in overtime to give the Quad-City Mallards a 3-2 win over the Fort Wayne Komets, extending the season for at least one more night.
The Mallards host the Komets in Game 5 of their first-round Kelly Cup Playoff matchup at the iWireless Center tonight at 7:05 p.m.
"To be honest, I didn't know how much time was left in the overtime period," Warning said. "We believe in this locker room and I think everybody, the fans and everybody in this community are behind us so we feel really supported. It was a great win but we've got to move on to (tonight)."
It's the first playoff win for the Mallards since April 25, 2015, snapping a nine-game postseason losing streak. It also snaps a six-game losing streak for the current team. The relief on some of the faces was evident as music came pumping out of the locker room for the first time since April Fool's Day.
"It feels pretty good. Monkey's off the back," said head coach Phil Axtell, who collected the first playoff win of his career. "It only takes one to get things going and I think we've got the group to do it. We never quit and I don't think we're going to quit (tonight). We're going to show up and play just as hard as we did tonight and hopefully we have a similar outcome."
Coming off a heart-breaking overtime loss in Game 3, the Mallards showed their fight from the start. Josh MacDonald gave the Mallards a 1-0 lead just 31 seconds in, sending a shot through a screen past Pat Nagle. The Mallards have scored the first goal in three of the four games this series, and took a 2-0 lead in the second period on a goal from Mike Wilson.
But the Komets, like they have all series, came roaring back.
Jason Binkley got Fort Wayne on the board, pouncing on an open look at 4:46 in the second period, then Jamie Schaafsma tied the game on a power play at 9;29. But the Mallards killed off a penalty that immediately followed, and kept the play even the rest of the way.
C.J. Motte was finally rewarded with his first career playoff win after his efforts went for naught in the first three games. The Mallards goaltender made 36 saves, and like he did in Game 3 to force overtime, was at his best in the closing moments of regulation, stopping Shawn Szydlowski's quality look from the slot.
"Just trying to keep my team in the game, trying to give us a chance to win the game," Motte said. "Even in the closing seconds, I'm just focused on the next shot. I saved the last one, all right, where's the next one coming from?"
Overtime went back and forth, with the Komets content to just put the puck on the net and force Motte to make the save, while the Mallards looked for the perfect shot to end it.
Though Warning's goal was clearly the biggest play on the scoreboard, it wouldn't have happened without the play of Chris Leibinger. The defenseman just joined the Mallards last month out of Michigan Tech University, but was strong on his stick to keep a clear attempt in the Fort Wayne zone. He fed the puck to Brady Brassart, whose shot rebounded to Warning for the goal.
"There's nothing too hard to say about it, just simple hockey, keep it simple out there and do the small things," Warning said. "(Leibinger's) an old college boy so he's been working out, skating pretty tough in college. He's a well-conditioned player right now and he's playing well for us."
Now the weary Mallards are faced with another elimination game tonight. With less than 24 hours to recover, the task is just as daunting, but this team has seemed to always play at its best with its backs against the wall, and the Mallards showed Friday night they'll definitely fight until the very end.
"We do what we did today," Axtell said. "Try to win every shift, every period. Hopefully we'll win another game."