Taychuk Reports on location:
There were just under 3,100 fans at the Windsor
Arena for Thursday night's game. Apparently seeing the defending Memorial
Cup Champions was
The ceremonial faceoff was conducted by Olympic figure skater Jennifer Robinson of Windsor.
John Scott Dickson opened the scoring unassisted early in the first with David Clarkson off. Everyone on the ice seemed to be admiring a big hit by Petr Kanko between the two benches, that are now only separated by a pane of glass, except for goal scorer Dickson. It was a good hard shot that Leduc didn't stop on his stick side.
Kitchener tied the game up on the powerplay with a beautiful tic, tac, toe passing effort with Richards burying it on the right side with assists to Kanko and Benoit.
The first period was over in 35 minutes, even though there were 7 minor penalties called by referee #26 (Sean Reid, for those who prefer names to numbers). Four of these went to Kitchener, including a very questionable unsportsmanlike conduct call on Clarkson (his 2nd of the game) for diving. The Rangers continually used the dump and chase to get the puck into the Windsor zone, followed by a hard forecheck. While all of the forward lines got a good cycle going off the forecheck they did not result in many good scoring chances.
Windsor took the lead again early in the 2nd period when Hennigar was able to come across the net and slide a soft shot back into the left corner of the net. Leduc had started to move across with Hennigar and was unable to react to the shot in the opposite direction.
Mid way through the period the Rangers were able to kill off a two-man advantage, which did not see the Spitfires generate many good scoring chances. One of these penalties was Clarkson's 3rd of the game (this one legitimate), following which he was dropped to the 4th line, with Davis moving up to take his spot on the 2nd line for the rest of the period.
Kitchener tied the game a couple of minutes later, 12 seconds into a powerplay, on what is already becoming a familiar play for the Rangers - win a faceoff, get it back to the point, move the puck to the middle of the ice, and put a shot toward the net. In this case O'Nabigon tipped in the Benoit shot for his 1st goal of the season, with Kanko getting the other assist.
Windsor goalie Matt Anthony made a number of fine saves to keep the score tied, and despite being outshot in the period Kitchener could have easily come out of it in the lead.
The 3rd period followed the same pattern as the previous two, with Windsor scoring first. Boris Valibek was caught up ice, resulting in a 2 on 1 for Windsor. Gibson was able to convert the rebound on O-Reilly's shot after Leduc made the initial save. Boris did not see the ice after this goal, although there was no evidence of an injury on the play.
It looked like Windsor was going to be able to nurse their lead to a victory, but with just under 2 minutes left Kanko scored his 1st goal of the season when the puck came to him about 10 feet out to the right of the Windsor goal. Benoit and Richards assisted on the play.
Kitchener called their timeout with just over a minute left in regulation and despite a flurry in the last minute were not able to beat Anthony and the game went to overtime.
The Rangers definitely were going for it in overtime, and had the best chances before Hennigar was able to come down the right wing and break across the Kitchener net with Marcus Smith, who looked tired at the end of a long shift defending. From where I sat it appeared that the puck hit the inside of the right goalpost and came back across the net and out. It did not appear to have ever crossed the line. The goal light went on for an instant then went out, but referee Reid who was trailing the play immediately signalled a goal. He did not appear to consult with the linesmen, and definitely did not speak to the goal judge. While skating off the ice Reid did not go to the Ranger bench, but in response to what I assume was a question from DeBoer could be seen to be saying "Yes it did", and that was that.
The stars announced in the arena were Anthony, Kanko and Hennigar.
There was no real rough stuff during the game, and referee Reid certainly seemed to be keeping his eye on Clarkson who took 4 minors, of which 2 were questionable. The lack of separation of the player's benches also lead to something, when Leavitt gave Adam Keefe a shot while both were going to the bench during a stoppage. Reid saw this and immediately called a penalty while Keefe was restrained by the linesman and teammates so nothing more happened.
Heshmatpour, Chmielewski, and Pototschnik were all healthy scratches. Fergus, Harrison, and Gravelding continue to be out of the lineup with various injuries, Heshmatpour may have been nursing a minor foot injury. The Rangers went with 4 complete forward lines and three lines of defensemen consisting of: Lashoff-Benoit, Smith-Valabik and Duff-Pepe. The forward lines were as follows: O'Nabigon - Richards - Kanko, Boucher - McGrath - Clarkson, Martynowski - McCaffrey - Keefe, and Davis - Franchin - McFarland.
Windsor did not look like an 0-3 team, and played tough in their own end. Beyond the 1st line, Kitchener did not look too dangerous playing 5 on 5, and as mentioned earlier the forecheck and cycling was effective at times it did not generate scoring chances. As the game went on Windsor adapted to Kitchener's power play and started to put more pressure on the points, taking away opportunities for clear shots on net, and also blocking several.
Some defensive breakdowns occurred, and at times players seemed to want to move up ice before we had clear possesion of the puck. None of the Windsor goals came as a result of sustained pressure in our end, so although there was some running around and the Spits in control of the puck, this did not lead to goals.
Excellent Game night Photography by: Stephen Gardiner