FORT WAYNE, IN- The Wheeling Nailers took their series opener in Fort Wayne one play at a time, and utilized practically every second they could get to earn their first win of the year in that building. Patrick Watling scored on a redirection goal with 4.7 seconds left in the first period, then Wheeling turned to goaltender Louis-Philip Guindon, who denied all 34 shots he faced, as the Nailers were victorious 1-0 at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.
The Nailers played a very strong first period, as they not only weathered a potential early storm from Fort Wayne, but also took a lead into the intermission. With time ticking down in the stanza, Sam Houde wound his way to the middle of the offensive zone and let a wrist shot go. Patrick Watling got a piece of the attempt to ramp it into the left side of the net with 4.7 seconds left on the clock.
After being held to six shots on goal in the opening stanza, the Komets ramped up their offensive attack in the final two frames, as they put ten pucks on the cage in the second period, then outshot Wheeling, 18-3 in the third. However, Louis-Philip Guindon had an answer for all of those attempts, which included two standard penalty kills, a 5-on-4 when matching minors occurred and Fort Wayne pulled its goalie, then a 6-on-4 for the final 20 seconds.
Louis-Philip Guindon was perfect on 34 shots, as he became the first Wheeling goaltender to earn a playoff shutout since Mike Condon in 2014, who also won a 1-0 game. Samuel Harvey suffered the defeat for Fort Wayne, after making 22 saves on 23 shots.
The Nailers and Komets will play game two of their Central Division Semifinal Series in Fort Wayne on Saturday night at 7:30. The series will then shift to WesBanco Arena for games three, four, and five on April 27th, 29th, and 30th (if necessary). All home games will begin at 7:10. The Nailers want you to join #NailersArmy and get your playoff tickets now by visiting wheelingnailers.com or by calling (304) 234-GOAL.