There's still a long ways to go for the Quad-City Mallards to make this a series, but they showed their fight and resolve in Game 4.
After dropping a heart-breaker 22 seconds into overtime of Game 3, a lot of teams could have packed it in, gone through the motions, and started packing for the summer.
But this team has been one of resiliency and resolve. Head coach Phil Axtell talked about the character of the players in the locker room the day he took over. It was the first thing he mentioned, and it was on full display Friday night.
The Mallards scored early, took a 2-0 lead, and looked solid early, but Fort Wayne has been a comeback team all series and all year, and there wasn't any question the Komets would do it again.
When they did, and made it 2-2, it once again could have been easy for the Mallards to fold, to feel like the inevitable was coming. But they didn't, and that is a big example of the character Axtell spoke so high of the day he took over.
Though this series is 3-1, it has been a great series. Three of the games have been decided by one goal and two have gone to overtime. The games at the iWireless Center were everything this series had the potential to provide, and has been great playoff hockey.
It's been such a close series, the Mallards are just a couple of bounces away from being up 3-1.
Friday night's game did a lot of good for the team, obviously. They're still very much in a hole, but they once again have the confidence to know they can beat Fort Wayne, that the systems work if they execute them for 60-plus minutes.
C.J. Motte has also kept the team alive in every game, and if the Mallards somehow find a way to advance, is the MVP of the series.
There's still a long ways to go for the Mallards, and the odds are still against them. They looked exhausted in the overtime and postgame, with Warning saying he was too exhausted to really remember his goal.
Fort Wayne is just as tired, but they have the benefit of a 3-1 series lead. They don't have as much pressure and don't absolutely have to play with as much intensity Saturday.
Quad-City must help itself out and must capitalize on the power play Saturday night. Fort Wayne has been content with going to the penalty box, and the Mallards haven't made them pay, just 1-for-14 on the power play in the series.
If the Mallards can make the Komets pay for going to the box, the Komets won't play with nearly as much physicality as they have, and holes will open up on the ice. But the Mallards must score on the power play, or Fort Wayne will continue to throw its weight around, content to go the penalty box.
This series still might end Saturday, but the Mallards showed Friday they won't go without a fight.
Game 5 should be fun.