MOLINE, IL — Danick Gauthier set the table for a 1-1 game with 20 minutes to go, but the Quad City Mallards scored three times in the third in a span of 7:13 to defeat the Rapid City Rush by a 4-1 score on Friday night.
Quad City struck first on special teams just over the midway point of the first period. With 14 seconds left on the first Mallards power play of the game, Matt Neal deflected a shot taken by Olivier Archambault from the near faceoff circle in the Rush zone by Rush net-minder, Danny Battochio, which afforded the Mallards a 1-0 lead at the 7:43 mark of the opening frame (Archambault and Zach Pochiro earned the assists).
The Rush evened things up in the second period that featured increased physical play and almost near-continuous action. With 3:36 played in the period, Winston Day Chief over-skated a rebound in the high slot of the Mallards zone, but recovered and played it to his defense on the Mallards’ blue line. Brian O’Rourke received the pass, faked a shot, and then slapped the puck down low to a wide-open Danick Gauthier, who made no mistake and beat Mallards’ goaltender Brody Hoffman for his of the the year, knotting the game up at 1-1 (O’Rourke and Day Chief notched the helpers).
The Mallards pulled away in the third period in the span over just over seven minutes to take an all-important two points away from the Rush. With 13:18 left in the game, Vladimir Nikiforov finished an odd-man rush with a one-time shot from the far faceoff circle in the Rush zone. Nikiforov’s strike gave the Mallards a 2-1 lead on assists from Zach Pochiro and Sam Warning. Moments later, the Mallards doubled their advantage to two goals thanks to Matt Carey, finishing a passing play in close range of Battochio, affording the Mallards a 3-1 lead with 11:20 left in the game (Austin Coldwell and Brady Brassart registered the assists). The Mallards scoring rally ended with 6:05 remaining in regulation, as Raphael Bussieres brought the game to its final score of 4-1, deflecting a shot in front of Battochio on assists from Matt Carey (his second point) and Brassart (his second assist).
Battochio fell for the first time in four starts, stopping 27 of 31 Mallards shots (16-15-3).
Both teams rematch tomorrow night at 6:05 p.m. MST at the iWireless Center.