In the blink of an eye, the Quad-City Mallards offense came to life.
The Mallards scored three goals in 43 seconds Saturday, rolling to a 5-3 win over the Wichita Thunder at the TaxSlayer Center.
The Mallards have now won three straight games for the first time since Nov. 3.
"It's a nice change to finally be putting complete games together and we're being rewarded and the guys are working hard, it's just fun," defenseman Alexander Kuqali said.
Much like in Friday night's 6-2 win over Kalamazoo, the Mallards' offense was started by its special teams.
The Mallards were put to the test early, forced to kill off a four-minute high-sticking penalty on Tristan King 84 seconds into the game. The Quad-City penalty kill was up to the task, keeping the Thunder without a shot on the power play, then the Mallards offense went to work.
"That's just setting the tempo of the game, it shows everyone is dialed in," Kuqali said. "We know, four minutes at the beginning of the game against one of the better teams in the league, we didn't even give them a sniff ... you're just able to get everyone fired up."
Jamie Tardif found Brayden Low alone in the slot for the first goal at 5:51 to put the Mallards up 1-0. Tardif and Kuqali found themselves on a 2-on-1 rush moments later, and Kuqali buried Tardif’s pass at 6:07.
Twenty-seven seconds later, Tristan King found himself in the right spot to bury a loose puck past Wichita goaltender Joel Rumpel to cap the raucous minute of action.
"It's nice when you can kind of hit rapid fire there and keep feeding off the energy, get the crowd into it," Kuqali said. "Guys get into it and we had three different lines score so it's nice to see guys get production."
Matt Pohlkamp scored on a power play at 2:37 to put the Mallards up 4-0 in the second period. The Quad-City special teams have been strong on the homestand. The penalty kill has killed off 14 of the last 15 attempts and the power play is 5 for 11 over the last three games.
Wichita finally broke through five minutes after Pohlkamp’s goal as Kevin Dufour made it 4-1 but the Mallards answered right back with Pohlkamp’s second of the night and his 11th of the season to put the Mallards up 5-1 and chase Rumpel from the net. Shane Starrett came in and made all seven saves in relief.
Dufour added his second goal of the night late in the third period and Jeremy Beaudry scored with just over four minutes left to make the game intersting but Ivan Kulbakov was too strong the rest of the night, making 32 saves. Kulbakov was at his best in the final few minutes after the Thunder pulled Starrett for an extra attacker with two minutes left.
The Mallards try to continue their winning streak when they host Tulsa Tuesday in the resumption of a game that was suspended due to a medical emergency earlier this season. The game starts at 6:30 p.m., and admission is free. The Mallards start that game down 2-1 midway through the second period.
"You approach it just like any other game," Kuqali said. "In some of our past wins, we've been down more than one goal and we've been able to come back and overcome that adversity. It's more adversity for our team to face, we've gone through a lot of it and I think we're starting to come through."
Warning to San Jose: The Quad-City Mallards lost their leading goal-scorer earlier this week when Sam Warning signed a professional tryout agreement with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda. Warning has 16 goals and 15 assists in 41 games this season with the Mallards.
Warning is also the franchise’s active career leader in games played (174), goals (56), assists (60) and points (116) in three seasons with the team. He made his AHL debut with the Barracuda Saturday.