The Toledo Walleye (39-14-2-2) scored twice on the power play and never surrendered the lead, defeating the South Carolina Stingrays (35-12-6-1) by a score of 4-2 on Friday night at the Huntington Center.
Forwards Kelly Zajac and Joe Devin each scored third period goals for the Stingrays in a comeback attempt, while Tad Kozun recorded his first professional point with an assist and Jeff Jakaitis stopped 32 shots in net for South Carolina.
Colin Jacobs opened the scoring by converting on a power play for Toledo at 11:20 of the first period to give the Walleye a 1-0 lead.
Toledo tacked on another power play goal from Simon Denis at 16:18 of the second frame to make it 2-0 and were in control of the game as the teams headed to the third period.
South Carolina got a response to cut it to a one-goal game at 2-1 when Zajac scored his 15th of the season just 14 seconds into the final period on the power play. Forward Dylan Margonari picked up the lone assist on the goal for his 25th point of the year.
But Dylan Sadowy answered quickly for Toledo at 1:11 of the third to put his team back in control and make it 3-1 Walleye.
Mike Borkowski then gave Toledo their largest advantage of the night, making it 4-1 at 12:07 of the last period.
Devin got his team-leading 16th goal of the year to cut things back to 4-2 at 17:12 of the third with an assist from Kozun, the rookie’s first professional point. After the Rays won a battle on the wall, the puck came out to Kozun for a shot, which was deflected over to Devin. The captain slid it home to get his team back to within two goals with under three minutes to play.
Walleye goaltender Pat Nagle stopped 18 shots to earn the victory for Toledo, who outshot South Carolina 36-20 in the contest. The Walleye were 2-for-8 on the power play, while the Stingrays finished 1-for-4 on the man-advantage.
The two teams will meet again for the final time this season on Saturday night in Toledo at 7:15 p.m. South Carolina returns to North Charleston on March 9 to take on the Greenville Swamp Rabbits at 7:05.