The Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colo., site of tonight's Game 4 in the ECHL Western Conference finals between the Toledo Walleye and the Colorado Eagles. BLADE/MARK MONROE
LOVELAND, Colo. — The Colorado Eagles seized a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals with a 5-4 victory in triple overtime over the Walleye on Friday night.
Matt Garbowsky scored the game-winning 3:07 into triple overtime.
The Walleye held a 4-3 lead on Zach Nastasiuk's goal with 12:33 left in regulation. But Colorado tied the game at 4 with a power play goal on a tip by Casey Pierro-Zabotel with 2:09 left in regulation.
Toledo forward A.J. Jenks has scored two goals and Tylor Spink also has scored before a capacity crowd of 5,289 at Budweiser Events Center.
Toledo native Lukas Hafner started in goal for Colorado for the third straight game in the series. Hafner came up with three of his best saves of the series around the 12 minute mark of OT. He stopped Dane Walters twice and Kyle Bonis once to keep the game alive.
Nastasiuk, who has been sidelined with a upper-body injury, was playing for the first time since May 5. Nastasiuk was injured in Game 4 of the Central Division finals against Fort Wayne and had missed four games. Nastasiuk scored on a backhander at the midpoint of the third and has two assists.
The Eagles won the last two games of the best-of-seven series in OT. Game 5 is set for 9:05 p.m. here Saturday night.
The teams were tied at 3 after two periods. The Eagles took a 3-2 lead just 3:31 into the second period. But Jenks tied it back up just 24 seconds later with his second goal of the game.
Colorado's Ryan Harrison scored a shorthanded goal to give the Eagles their first lead of the game.
But Jenks answered with his eighth goal of the playoffs to tie it back up just as a Toledo power play had expired.
The game was tied at 2 after one period. The Walleye twice held one-goal leads before the Eagles found the equalizer both times.
Toledo rookie forward Tylor Spink scored 3:04 into the game on assists from Tyson Spink and Matt Caito.
But Colorado tied it at 1 as Sergei Boikov scored on a one timer 6:41 into the game. Boikov beat Walleye goalie Jake Paterson, who is in goal for the first time since April 25.
Jenks then put the Walleye up 2-1 when his shot deflected off the cross bar and in the Colorado net. Jenks beat Toledo native Lukas Hafner, who is in goal for the third straight game for the Eagles, with 6:33 left in the opening period.
Colorado tied it back up at 2 with 3:31 left in the first period when Luke Salazar scored.
Toledo had a good push over the first five minutes of the third period. The Walleye had three quick shots as Dane Walters thought he had scored. But Hafner came up with his biggest sequence of saves of the series.
Hafner came up with three of his best saves of the series around the 12 minute mark of OT. He stopped Dane Walters twice and Kyle Bonis once to keep the game alive.
The Walleye were absolutely just hanging on as Colorado started OT with a 7-0 edge in shots. Toledo recovered with a good push to start the second OT. Hafner stopped Tyson Spink with a glove save with 12:50 left in the second overtime. He then stops Nastasiuk with 11:46 left.
Paterson then kept it alive with a stop on Boikov with 11:14 left in double OT.
FISH TALES: Walleye forward Shane Berschbach celebrated his 26th birthday on Friday.
“I just want a nice win for the boys and the city of Toledo,” he said before the game.
* Paterson started in net for Toledo in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals.
Paterson, who has been sidelined with a lower-body injury, will see his first action since April 25. Veteran goalie Jeff Lerg has started in eight straight Kelly Cup playoff games for Toledo. Lerg is 6-3-1 with a 2.55 goals-average and .913 save percentage.
Lerg has lost two straight and the Walleye enter the fourth game of the best-of-seven series down two games to one to Colorado.
Paterson suffered a lower-body injury in Game 7 of the opening-round series against Kalamazoo. He had posted a 3-2 record with a 3.41 goals-against average during the playoffs.
“It's exciting,” Paterson said. “Sitting out is never fun. I've watched the boys doing well, so it's been exciting from that standpoint. But you always want to be the guy in the net. It's a big game tonight.”
Paterson went 34-13-2 during the regular season with a 2.28 goals-against average and earned All-ECHL second team honors. Paterson, 23, posted seven shutouts during the regular season, a Toledo ECHL record. The 34 wins for Paterson also is a single-season Walleye record.
Walleye coach Dan Watson said the decision came down to giving Paterson a chance to get back in goal.
“Lerg has carried the load. He's done a phenomenal job,” Watson said. “But we're going to turn to Patty here. Paterson's ready to go. [Lerg] has lost two in a row. We want to give Paterson an opportunity.”
The Mississauga, Ont. native had an 11-game unbeaten in regulation streak (10-0-1) that lasted from Nov. 16 through Dec. 30.
Watson also made two more lineup changes for tonight's game. Forwards Zach Nastasiuk and Alex Globke have been taken off of the reserved list and will play tonight. Forward J.P. LaFontaine and defenseman Justin Agosta have both been placed on the reserve list.