The Erie Otters' goaltending carousel finally came to a stop. After the Rangers' ran into five consecutive different starters, they finally ran into a repeat "victim," Kevin Beech who was chased after a pair of miserable periods in Erie was run out into the goal for the Otters. While the Rangers countered with rookie Charles Lavigne, the 3rd starter that Erie had seen this season. Neither end of the goaltending matchup that led to Erie's only victory over the Rangers was available on this night. Mark Packwood was moved to the Oshawa Generls and Justin Garay, formerly of the Whalers is just now starting to work out in an attempt to rejoin the Otters after suffered a long term injury in the first half of the season. Beech would have a much, much stronger performance in Kitchener than he did in Erie, where just about everything snuck past him, predominately the victim of some horrible deflections and bad bounces. This night would be different, even on his game Beech couldn't stop the flow of Rangers' goals.
After a bit of a hiatus during the matchup
against the Storm, the Rangers' deadly line of Tsimikalis, Spaling and
Oreskovich came to life in the first period. Nick Spaling was set
up by Jakub Kindl, first midway through the first period from the point
and in the first period's final minute, by Peter Tsimikalis for his 20th
of the season. The tally enabled Spaling to join four others in the
20-goal club for the Rangers that currently includes forwards: Steve Downie,
Matt Halischuk, Victor Oreskovich and Kevin Henderson. It was probably
damage control for the Otters during the opening period as they were outshot
by an 18-3 margin, and managed to escape two Rangers' power play opportunities.
The Rangers were starting Charles Lavigne, Lavigne was getting his first
start in 5 games and during the first period, the Otters weren't exactly
keeping him busy with the 3 shots, though he did have some excellent stop,
sliding across the crease on a two-on-one.
In the second period after killing off a penalty of their own, Steve Downie gave the hometown Rangers a 3-0 lead with a power play goal only 29 seconds into the man advantage. It would the 6th consecutive head-to-head matchup where the Rangers would lead 3-0, against the Erie Otters. Justin Azevedo would have an even strength goal sandwiched betweeen yet another Downie power play tally. Downie would record 4 points in total he was in on each of the Rangers' 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th goals of the night over a timespan of less than 20 minutes, showing just how explosive he can make a line. He was joined by Justin Azevedo and Mike Duco who was moved up from the 3rd line to help jumpstart what is considered the Rangers "other" top unit along with Tsimikalis' line. A highsticking double-minor to Dan Kelly on an accidental high-stick that drew blood when he attempted to lift the stick of an Otters' forward. It seemed to curtail the very same mometum that gave the Rangers the 5-0 lead going into the third period. In the third Mike Duco struck early expanding the lead to 6-0.
With a shutout within sight the Otters had a 4-on-3 man advantage and Zach Torquato struck with a wrist shot that beat Lavigne, with only 5:32 short of obtaining his first Ontario Hockey League shutout. What occured then, would shape the remainder of the game. In frustation of coming so close Lavigne would dig the puck out with his trapper and then batted the puck, which unfortunately found its way all of the way up into the crowd. It led to an automatic ejection from the game and gross misconduct, the fallout will be a five-game suspension that will start during the next Rangers' game. John Murray was thrown into the fire, and it wasn't good looking, Murray wasn't just in there cold, but also under the weather with the flu. Murray allowed a goal on the first shot that he faced also coming from Zach Torquato, Nick Spaling and Mike Duco also scored late in the third, Duco's goal was his 2nd in the period and Spaling's completed the hat trick. Stanislav Polodna also scored for the Otters during a wild 4:37 that saw the Otters and Rangers exchange 5 goals. The final was 8-3 for the Rangers.