Round one goes to the Knights, albeit with a heavy dose of momentum for the Rangers. Teams with 8-game winning streaks entered and only one team could conceivably leave with their winning streak intact, on this night it was the Knights who extended their streak to 9 games and perfect playoff mark of 9-0. In the early going it was the Rangers who appeared to enter with the upper hand. They came close on an early powerplay and then continued with their strong penalty kill having two consecutive minors called against them, three of which overlapped and coming out unscathed. In total the Rangers were down 5-on-3 for just over one minute of playing time though for those watching from the bench and the stands against the extremely potent London powerplay it must have seemed like an eternity. Justin Azevedo came up with the biggest stop for the Rangers when he thwarted a Knights' shooter who was right on the doorstep having the better half of an empty net to shoot at with a timely stick-check this was with the Rangers' down two men. Rangers' defenders as they have been all season were quite belligerent infront of their netminder allowing Pfligler to see all of the shots that were directed at him. While shorthanded Kevin Henderson amongst others had chances to work on a follow-up act to the team's wizardry while playing shorthanded something that they excelled at against the Attack, allowing 3 goals and scoring an equal three in the process while down a man. The Knights struck when most would least expect it, Robbie Schremp took a slapper from just inside the faceoff circle on a rush that squeezed through Pfligler's legs and rested wel behind him in the crease. Danny Fritsche crashed the net and the puck sending the night flying only half a second prior to sending the puck over the goal-line drawing first blood for the Knights. It was the first goal in a Western Conference to have ever been video reviewed and after a considerable delay it was allowed to stand.
The Knights would start taking the play to
the Rangers in the second period, partly because of the momentum gained
by the late first period goal and a string of 5 consecutive Rangers' penalties,
some which could have should have been avoidable. Penalties on both
sides in terms of quality of infractions did leave something to be desired
as the powerplay advantage shifted to the Rangers later in the game.
The Knights appeared to have taken a 2-0 lead in the second period as a
point shot found its way through traffic and to the back of the Rangers'
net. Official Mark Hicks waved the goal off immediately much to the
displeasure of the 5th straight sell-out crowd in London. During
the powerplay the Rangers' nearly scored on a wraparound chance.
Robbie Drummond came extremely close to gloving the puck, but Bryan Rodney
was able to poke the puck under Dennis' pads. Danny Fritsche the
scorer of the first Knights' goal was immediately sent to the box for interference,
later in the period the Knights would bounce back. Danny Fritsche
would make up for that with his saucer pass through Matt Pepe to David
Bolland who's one-timer just barely squeaked through a sliding Eric Pfligler.
The Rangers were arguably the victims of some poor luck as Jakub Kindl's
busted stick was a catalyst in the 2 on 1 rush. Only minutes later
the Knights took a commanding 3-0 lead as Bryan Rodney's lazer beam beat
Pfligler who didn't appear to see the shot.
The Knights seemed to get into a defensive mode in the third period, and as a result had a playoff low 5 shots on goal to the Rangers 9. The Rangers' forecheck finally started to penetrate and started to land some hits on the London defense, one of their keys to victory over the Knights who do appear to be shortstaffed on the blueline. David Clarkson was the most dangerous Ranger on the ice he tipped several shots just wide of the Knights' net. Midway through the period Craig Voakes appeared to have scored though there was no goal light to indicate a goal nor did Mark Hicks signal a goal, after a very lengthy delay with video review out of Toronto the call came back to the arena that a goal was scored. Mark Hicks pointed towards center ice after several of the players on either team had lined up deep in the London zone indicating a goal was scored. The Rangers' pressed and with two minutes left pulled their netminder in favour of an extra attacker. They hit the post but shortly after Michael Richards' wrister found it's way through Dennis bringing the Rangers to within one goal, and prompting a Rangers' timeout with 100 seconds left on the clock, and Eric Pfligler was returned to his crease.
Pfligler didn't spend too much time in goal was he quickly vacated the crease with the time remaining nearing one minute. Brandon Prust did put a shot squarely off of the post with the Rangers' netminder on the bench for the extra attacker. The Knights iced the puck numerous times in the final 30 seconds, and the Rangers suffered from an inability to win faceoffs in order to have a scoring chance that would lead to a tying goal. As has occured in several Knights-Rangers matchups the game ended in a scrum, Michael Richards and Corey Perry emerged from the pile at center ice and squared off, in what was a fight of fan interest, but little consequence. The Knights were only able to hold a 30-27 shooting edge over 60 minutes. The Rangers and Knights each had a powerplay goal in 8 and 9 chances respectively. The win by the Knights extended their string of victories over the Rangers to 11 consecutive wins regular season and playoffs. It was the first time that the Rangers had ever faced Adam Dennis while in a Knights jersey. Eric Pfligler's once-perfect playoff record was reduced to 8-1 with the loss. He was the game's third star. Bryan Rodney who lead all season-series scorers with 9 points in 6 games, lead the Knights with a goal and an assist, David Bolland (named the game's first star) also had a goal and an assist. Andre Benoit assisted on both Rangers' goals. Despite leading the league in penalties the Rangers have only had two fighting majors in all of the postseason, both of them by captain: Michael Richards.