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Another ugly win over the Whalers
 


Mark Packwood gets just enough of this second period opportunity to keep it out of the net, for the third time this season Packwood took a
shutout into the third period.
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com


After dropping a 3-0 decision, the only shutout the Rangers have suffered versus the four that they and specifically netminder Dan Turple have passed around the league.  Since then the Rangers have taken full advantage against the Whalers, especially in their very violent 7-3 victory in Plymouth.  First, the Whalers who were fresh off the bus humiliated the Rangers with that already mentioned 3-0 win in Kitchener.  The Rangers' struck back where it hurt, with a dominant performance in Plymouth.  It wasn't just that the Rangers played well enough to win, but they outshot the Whalers 25-3 and took a 5-0 lead late in the second period.  Unfortunately when teams get humiliated on their own ice, pride comes into play, it gets hurt . . . and when it gets hurt tempers boil over.  In Plymouth it was a pair of heavy weight bouts, the undercard: Fraser vs. Boll and then the main event, a long awaited but one-sided match between Valabik and Pisellini, after things were unresolved in Kitchener and Valabik was suspended for a slewfoot after a match penalty prematurely ended his night early.

Round 3, more of the same, no fighting, no slew-footing.  But official Ryan Carroll wasn't overly vigilant in calling some of the cheap hitting infractions, and it seemed almost like a miracle that no one was hurt given the amount of late hits, boarding, charging and hitting from behind that was taking place.  Not altogether different from what happened in Michigan during the last head-to-head match of the two teams.  At the conclusion of the game, during the post-game interviews, DeBoer was quoted as praising the Rangers' for exercising some restraint and avoiding costly retaliation penalties, only one night after a three goal effort - all while playing 5-on-5, the Rangers' specialty teams took over, and were the bread and butter of the Rangers' in this matchup.  In addition to scoring on a trio of power plays the Rangers also held the Whalers' power play in check, and only allowed the one shorthanded goal, never once yielding the lead in the game after jumping out to a 1-0 advantage just short of the midway point of the first period.
 



Yves Bastien reacts as his first period breakaway attempt is thwarted by Peters.
Picture Courtesy of: OHLPhotos.com

As thrilling and exciting as it is to watch, one thing that Rangers' fans have seen too much of this season is Yves Bastien breakaways.  He scored during the season opener, a blow-out win over what was at the time an extremely hapless Windsor team, since then he's failed on numerous attempts, but not for lack of effort or for that matter speed!  In this first period Bastien used his speed to burst around yet another defender on the outside, but when reached the goal, Justin Peters was there waiting for him and followed the young Rangers' winger through the crease.  Many events paralleled those of one night earlier in Brampton.  The Rangers were on the penalty kill early and Justin Azevedo rather than Kevin Henderson who hauled down an opposing player while forechecking in the offensive zone.  The difference was that this time the Rangers' penalty kill and their netminder Packwood who was at times under seige early held the Whalers off the board.  Once the Rangers' got a power play chance of their own they only needed all of 23 seconds for Jakub Kindl's point shot from the center of the blueline was tipped by David Lomas and into the Whalers' net.  Justin Peters' the only current netminder to have scored a goal (his goal was during the 7th game of a first round playoff series), also took a shot at the Rangers' net with Packwood occupying while helping his Whalers kill a penalty.

Evan McGrath picked up a power play goal early in the second period when he scored on the man advantage, the Rangers' second power play goal in only 3 opportunities at that point.  The Rangers' continued to press and as they did the night before improved during the second period.  But, the Rangers' power play has had a knack for being radically inconsistent all season, and where it was strong early in the game, the power play failed to put the game away when given opportunities, most notably a two-man advantage, and worse yet, got scored on just seconds after a power play had expired by Gino Pisellini early in the third period to draw to within a goal.  After an onslaught of shots on Peters, attention then returned to Mark Packwood, the Rangers' rookie backup who was chased by the Whalers in his first career OHL start in Plymouth over a year ago.  Hard work and patience worked for the Rangers' David Lomas used his size infront to maintain his balance and score a critical goal to give the Rangers' breathing room again.  Minutes earlier Azevedo had rung a shot that Peters' never saw off of the post.  The final minutes were ugly and the Rangers were forced to kill the final 11 seconds of the game playing two men short.  Azevedo iced the game with only 2 seconds remaining with a neat clear that found it's way from the boards at the opposite end into the empty net, sending the crowd of better than 6,000 into a frenzy.  Kitchener and Plymouth will do it all again in this home-at-home series in Plymouth on Saturday night.