Make it 7 straight for the Rangers, as lady luck ran out on the Erie Otters in overtime in Kitchener and simply wouldn't smile on them in Erie when the Rangers visited for the return match. The Rangers who have taken each of the last 3 season series' against the Otters are poised to take a 4th straight having already taken a 3-0 lead on the Otters as the two have 5 head-to-head matchups remaining. Public enemy #1 in Erie is big Rangers' defender: Boris Valabik, who last season endeared himself to Otters' fans by roughing up diminutive foward: Rob Hisey in the pre-season. Perhaps the "real" enemy in Erie should be the powerplay that has hardly been effective striking only twice in 27 opportunities against the Rangers including two games, including this one where the Rangers' penalty kill refused to allow a single goal. The Rangers on the other hand despite an effective an efficient power play that scored a pair during the first period, had their lowest power play goal total in 5 games, their two goals on this evening only represent a small portion of the 9 power play markers that the Rangers have against. The Otters' penalty kill operates at a very effective 85% when they aren't playing a Rangers' team who in 3 of their last 4 games has relied exclusively on power-play scoring.
After a rather pathetic start on Friday night
with the power play the Rangers took it to the Otters during the first
in Erie. The Rangers took it to the Otters outshooting them 11-4,
and holding the Otters without a shot on goal through the first 12 minutes
of regulation time. Several close calls around the Otters' net early,
before striking early in their first two power play opportunities, obviously
capitalizing on the momentum gained late in their overtime win the night
before. With part-time captain: Ryan O'Marra in the box for high
sticking the Rangers took exactly 22 seconds to convert, Craig Voakes put
a wrist shot through Disher giving the Rangers an early lead, they built
on it, when Chris Greene cleared the puck over the class several minutes
later. This time the Rangers' power play was even quicker to strike,
Jakub Kindl got the puck at the point and then proceeded to weave around
the forward at the point and then proceeded into the slot where he skated
laterally finally pulling Josh Disher out of position, and tucking the
puck in just out of Disher's reach. After getting some of the bounces
his way in Kitchener Disher appeared to be fighting the puck early in this
one. The second power play goal by the Rangers took only 7 seconds
to complete from faceoff to having the puck sitting at the back of the
net. Boris Valabik as always was entertaining for the crowd who took
pride in mocking the rugged Rangers' defender who argued for a call after
being cross-checked in the mouth and during the first period found his
way to the box only temporarily. Valabik's clearing attempt deflected
off of a stick of an Otters' forward and into the crowd, Valabik was in
the box (arguing all of the way there) before one of the linesmen was able
to convince the referees to reverse the call freeing Valabik from his home
away from home before any time could elapse.
Always dangerous Michael Blunden posed threat pretty much every time he was on the ice, as previously mentioned his 7 game goal streak continued and when it did it was at the expense of the Rangers' power play that was so effective during the first period. After an ill advised pass to the point got Matt Lashoff in trouble, Derrick Bagshaw chased the puck out of the zone eventually stripping it off of the Rangers' defender. Blunden joined Bagshaw on the way into the Rangers' zone and got ahead of the two, took a pass and then proceeded to move to the backhand putting a shot directly under the crossbar with deadly accuracy beating Turple for the first and last time during this night. Turple who really didn't stand a chance came up with a huge effort for the Rangers after a rather lacklustre one only one night earlier. Turple had a easy time of things through the first period, but things heated up for the veteran Rangers' netminder getting more and more challenging as the game went on. Blunden's goal brought the season-high crowd to life and kept them motivated through the remainder of regulation time.
In the third period the Otters' came up with yet another big shorthanded effort on the Rangers. With Andrew Hotham on his way towards the Rangers' net Justin Azevedo stepped into the big Otters' defender with a bone-crushing open-ice hit but after knocking Hotham off of the puck and stopping the Otters' scoring chance Azevedo fell to the ice crumpled, he left and would not return. Unfortunately a concussion is suspected for the crafty Rangers' forward. It's a bad time with Ryan Donally still out of the lineup fighting the effects of a concussion that he received in Peterborough. Ryan O'Marra had the bulk of the quality scoring chances for the Otters in the third period, but at times appeared to be grasping his stick too tightly while Craig Voakes at the other end missed some quality chances as well. The Rangers controlled the tempo of the third period which was relatively slow, they played a conservative dump and chase game and Dan Turple wasn't overly generous with rebounds vacuuming up pretty much everything that hit him. No love for the netminders by the individuals who chose the three stars in either arena considering some formitible efforts by the visiting masked men. Jakub Kindl who had a very strong two-way game and Craig Voakes who had the bulk of the quality scoring chances for the Rangers were first and second star, while Bluden scooped up third star honours. It was the first time that the Rangers had played the Otters with the Otters' wearing their third jerseys that actually made their debut during the 2004-'05 season.