It was ugly it looked severely incompetent, and it didn't help the Rangers win, but was a solid force behind the Knights' 6-1 triumph. The powerplay is a two-edged sword, on this night the Knights were able to benefit from it the most. They scored the first five goals on the game all on the man advantage, while the Rangers struggled despite an excess of two-man advantages that eventually clicked in the third period avoiding an absolutely humiliating shutout at the hands of Adam Dennis who's play despite a close game could be described as brilliant! The constant penalties and dives by and at the expense of both teams effectively ruined the flow of what may have otherwise been a very well contested game. Peter DeBoer seemed to put an exclaimation point on this thought as he sent Michael Richards to the box to serve one of the third period instigator minors that the Rangers' received, it was the icing on a very pathetic cake, that the OHL has allowed to cook all playoffs long. Still, full marks to the Knights who capitalized on their chances. The game wasn't without it's casualties either, both teams finished one defenseman short, Eric Pfligler finished up a period early and several players had misconduct penalties that stretched longer than regulation would permit, including Adam Keefe who was given a game misconduct after his second fight of the night. The injuries if they do prove to extend into the series, could prove to be very costly for either of these two teams who are at risk of losing finesse defencemen.
The Rangers tried to make their own officiating
breaks early in this one and to an extent succeeded in doing so.
Brandon Prust was called for charging and immediately the Rangers called
for a measurement of Corey Perry's stick which as it turned out was illegal
putting the Knights down for two men for a full two minutes. The
Rangers after three minutes of play, two of which were on the powerplay
outshot the Knights 7-0, but failed to beat Adam Dennis who simply refused
to spill out a rebound to hungry Ranger vultures which circled the Knights'
net. Danny Fritsche opened the scoring when he deceived Eric Pfligler
and put a wrister on the opposite side of him while on the Knights first
powerplay. It would be a sign of things to come for the Rangers'
bad things to come. Corey Perry then beat Pfliger through the five-hole
while the Knights were playing 5-on-3 hockey. Dylan Hunter picked
up a cross-crease pass from Danny Syvret and just barely put the puck over
the goal line from the opposite side of the goal (as shown above) giving
the Knights a commanding 3-0 on their way to the dressing room. Peter
DeBoer took a bench minor while arguing calls which seemed excessive on
both sides all night long.
Only 44 seconds into the second period Dylan Hunter scored his 2nd of the game, naturally with a Rangers' player in the box. With three of the Knights' top 6 defenders already out, disaster struck with the Knights on the powerplay. Ryan Donally chased Danny Syvret in the Knights' zone he shoved the Knights high-scoring defender and with an very unfortunate break, Syvret steered himself directly into the boards head-first. Syvret took his time in getting off of the ice in some obvious discomfort in his neck area, he would later leave the bench and exit right - through the tunnel. The Knights appeared to have scored another, but a video replay would either prove inconclusive or off of the post, disallowing any goal by Danny Fritsche, he would score a real goal later in the period, the fifth straight on the Knights' powerplay. The games' first regular strength tally would come off of the stick of Dave Bolland at 14:35 of the second period. The Knights left the period up 6-0. Frustrations started boiling over at this point as well. Duco and Foreman went toe-to-toe as did Prust and Keefe. Upon Prust's release from the box, he landed a vicious check on Matt Lashoff which obvious focused on the facial area of the young Rangers' defender, Lashoff left, not to return, after a short deliberation by the officiating crew Brandon Prust also departed with a 5-minute charging major and game misconduct.
Entering the third period the Rangers elected
to give Mark Packwood a quick taste of OHL playoff hockey. Making
Packwood the third Rangers' netminder to have appeared in this season's
playoffs. He wasn't overly busy but did have to contend with a couple
of Knights' powerplays. The Rangers' despite an epidemic of widespread
powerplay incomptence managed to finally score on Adam Dennis, Evan McGrath
was the marksman with his second goal of the series. Boris Valabik
(talking to London bench) and Adam Keefe (second instigator) were both
sent for early showers. Adam Keefe actually struggled in his second
bout of the night with the always annoying Kelly Thomson. The Rangers
have now started both games in London down 3-0. Danny Syvret was
able to compile 3 points, all assists prior to leaving with an injury.
Danny Fritsche was the most dangerous of all Knights.