The Rangers are fighting to make the playoffs (they are 5 points out) while the Ottawa 67s are trying to keep the home-ice advantage and move up the standings. Ottawa has clinched a place in the playoffs.
On the player front, Kitchener is moving on after sending Mike Mascioli home for the rest of the season. The Ottawa 67s are still playing with 5 players out of the roster.
Cowick, Couture, Nigro,
Lindsay, Kiriakou, Nesbitt
Smith, Blunden, Carnevale
Scratches: Toffoli (concussion), Birkhoff (knee), Anderson (shoulder), Cuma (knee), Martindale (mono)
It was an exciting game played by two evenly matched teams but overall I would give the edge to Kitchener. They just seemed to have more puck possession and more control. But they lacked a bit of puck-luck as they rang a few off the post.
Ottawa's depth in scoring was evident in that the 5 goals came from 5 different players although from just two lines. But the other lines had a lot of energy and held their own.
Ottawa went up by two in the first period with Thomas Nesbitt's 21st when his rebound shot beat Van Buskirk short side and with Anthony Nigro's unassisted short-handed goal. Assists on Nesbitt's goal went to Cody Lindsay and Thomas Kiriakou.
Ottawa native Jason Akeson (and cousin to former 67 Jeremy Akeson), tied the game up with back to back power play goals. Then the see-saw started. Ottawa regained the lead with Logan Couture credited with a goal that went in off a Kitchener player. Chris Perugini got the assist. He now has 4 assists on the season I believe. But before the goal was finished being announced, Jacob Lalonde tied the game up when he was left alone in the slot.
Cody Lindsay restored the Ottawa lead just before the halfway mark in the third period but once again Kitchener came right back less than 3 minutes later with a goal from Chris MacKinnon.
Kitchener still kept working hard and it felt like they were going to score but Perugini made the saves and his team cleared away the debris.
Thomas Kiriakou put Ottawa ahead for good with about 3 minutes left in the game beating Van Buskirk high glove side as the penalty was winding down. It was Ottawa's first and only power play goal of the game. He was assisted by Thomas Nesbitt and Martin Paryzek.
Then it got really exciting. Kitchener turned it on and pressed for the tying goal. Logan Couture took a hooking call with 2:18 left in the game. With the Rangers in full control in the Ottawa zone, Van Buskirk was pulled for the extra attacker which made it 6-on-4 for 1:22. They poured on the pressure and got shots through to Perguini which he stopped. The game saving move may have been when Gibbons got his stick in the way of wrap-around that looked to have an open corner.
It went right down to the buzzer and the 67s were able to hold off the desperate Kitchener Rangers. I thought for sure that they would tie it up with the two-man advantage but the 67s prevailed.
- Ottawa has been playing without some key players but even with these absences they were scrambling more than perhaps they should have been. They iced the puck several times (too many times) trying stretch passes or just plain missing their guy.
- The power play was not so powerful - 1 PPG on 6 power plays.
- Despite allowing 2 PPGs against (1 was a 5-on-3), they did a pretty good job on the 8 PKs and the 2-man disadvantage at the end of the game. But they are taking too many unnecessary penalties.
- Had a chance to chat with Jason Akeson's dad. We first met at the Memorial Cup when he was watching the warm-up (we had ice-level seats). Also met Shane Prince's dad who was up from west NY to take in this Kitchener road trip.
- Dalton Smith has been called up and, depending on his play, will likely stay for the rest of the season. This is his 7th game with Ottawa but his first in the Civic Centre. He had a good game.
- The 67s now have 6 players with more than 20 goals with Thomas Nesbitt joining the ranks with his 20th goal in Peterborough on Thursday. We were at the Sens - Canuks game on Thursday (sigh!) and the guys behind us mentioned the 67s playing that night. Turned out they are related to Nesbitt and have been following his progress. Small world.
- Crazy George was in the house (and it was a pretty full house) and he certainly got the crowd going. There were a lot of Kitchener fans in Ottawa.