JOHNSTOWN, Pa. - Trailing by six points in the Atlantic Division race, the Wheeling Nailers wanted to start the unofficial second half of the season with a solid effort. What they got was a whole lot more.
Denver Manderson had a goal and assist just 1:33 apart in the second period and Patrick Killeen stopped all 17 shots he faced for the first Nailers shutout of the season, as they earned a 3-0 victory against Toledo on Friday night at Cambria County War Memorial Arena. Division-leading Elmira, which comes to Johnstown tonight, also won.
"I thought this was an amazing game for us. They really made it easy on me, and I thought we controlled the puck for the most part," Killeen said. "We didn't get a lot of shots but we did a great job of getting the opportunities we wanted.
"We did well on faceoffs and didn't turn the puck over. It was just a real solid effort all the way around."
Killeen didn't face all that many shots, but he can thank defenseman Adam Ross for securing the shutout.
With the Walleye (15-19-3 - 33) on what was left of a 4-minute power play to begin the third, Ross came out of nowhere to dive and get a stick on a puck just before it crossed the goal line.
Toledo 0 0 0 - 0
Wheeling 0 2 1 - 3
1st Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Schnell Whl (interference), 5:57; Blair Tol (high-sticking), 18:46; Estoclet Tol (slashing ), 20:00.
2nd Period-1, Wheeling, Day 1 (Manderson, Crowder), 3:07 (PP). 2, Wheeling, Manderson 9 (Bedard, Schnell), 4:40. Penalties-Oslund Tol (roughing), 2:41; Manderson Whl (slashing ), 9:35; Schnell Whl (boarding, unsportsmanlike conduct, misconduct, game misconduct), 17:28.
3rd Period-3, Wheeling, Lenes 12 (Bushee) 18:03 (EN). Penalties-Dame-Malka Whl (interference), 19:06; Oslund Tol (hooking), 19:26.
Shots on Goal-Toledo 6-7-5-18. Wheeling 9-12-7-28.
Power-Play Opportunities-Toledo 0 / 5; Wheeling 1 / 4.
Goalies-Toledo, Carlson 3-2-0-1 (27 shots-25 saves). Wheeling, Killeen 11-9-2-1 (18 shots-18 saves).
Referee-Curtis Marouelli (24); Linesmen-Zach Roberts (84), Francis Trempe (85).
"That was a great play by (Ross), never giving up on it," Nailers interim coach Clark Donatelli said. "He's a big body, and that's why he's one of our main penalty killers out there.
"Great second effort."
Added Killeen: "That was unbelievable. I probably owe him big time."
After the teams played to a scoreless tie in the first, the Nailers got on the board first at the 3:07 mark of the second period. Manderson's shot clanged off Carlson's mask and right to Day, who punched home his first pro goal from the side of the crease.
"Brian works hard," Donatelli said. "He's coming off the injury but now he's starting to play a lot more minutes.
"He's going to start getting better and better as his minutes go up.
Shortly thereafter, Manderson found himself alone in the slot and beat Carlson glove-side with a slapshot for his ninth of the season. Mickael Bedard and Ryan Schnell were credited with the assists.
"I tell Denver all the time, 'you play good, solid defense and it creates offense,' " Donatelli said. "He's a guy that takes a lot of draws late in the period, he wins draws, and he's very sound defensively.
"When he gets his chance, he's going to put it in."
Wheeling (21-13-3 - 45) put it out of reach at 18:03. Peter Lenes stole the puck and skated around and put it into an empty net for his 12th goal of the season.
But the defense was the star.
"We stressed neutral zone and taking care of our own end and playing good, solid defense," Donatelli said. "The guys went out there and executed it perfectly."
The Nailers had the better of the chances early, but Carlson was up to the test. He stopped Manderson on a breakaway halfway through the first as he showed the 5-hole and then closed. A few minutes later it was Mickael Bedard turned away consecutively on a pair of in-close opportunities.
Schnell, playing after being sent down from Wilkes-Barre, was given 2 minutes for boarding, 2 minutes for verbal abuse of the officials, a 10-minute misconduct and a game misconduct near the end of the second period. The verbal abuse could result in a suspension for tonight's game.
"The call's the call and he's a little upset," Donatelli said. "He was having a solid game going and getting on loose pucks and finishing checks, which is what he does.
"You can't argue with the official and I don't know what was said out there. I don't know about the unsportsmanlike to put us down 4 minutes, but hey, it's hockey.
"We went out there and our penalty kill did a great job."