A pair of 4-3 games in the Western Conference, one all about overcoming stellar, seasoned goaltending and the other about the perceived underdog, Owen Sound, coming on strongly against a banged-up Plymouth Whaleres team. On with the post-game questions:
London 4 Kitchener 3, OT (Knights lead 3-1) — First the Anthony Stolarz pseudo-save in Game 2; what call/non-call went against the Rangers this time? London was full value for the victory, levelling 61 shots on that night at John Gibson across the 73½-minute marathon, including 8-5 in the overtime session.
Kitchener, though, felt there was a missed call on Nikita Zadorov's equalizer 3:50 into the third period.
From Ryan Pyette (@RyanatLFPress):
London tied it early in the third on a controversial goal by Nikita Zadorov, who played a huge role with Tommy Hughes out for this game after his slew foot suspension. The big Russian d-man, who missed Game 2 because of upper-body soreness, had a clear path to the net after Olli Maatta collided with Kitchener forward Justin Bailey.
The Rangers were not impressed.
“I know 100 percent it was interference,” Kitchener associate coach Paul Fixter said. “Bailey's going across to pick up his defenceman and he gets picked, he gets interfered with, and it was a missed call.” (London 4 Free Press)
They have that, and the fact they're playing for their season, to work with heading into Game 5 in London. (London Free Press)
Friday's Game 5 at will air nationwide on Sportsnet One.
Which Rangers vets are under the gun to perform on Friday's must-win game? Well, it will take the quintessential 20-player effort for Kitchener to avoid elimination in Game 5. As far as storylines go, Ottawa Senators first-rounder Matt Puempel, who was Kitchener's biggest preseason acquisition, is in a three-game goal drought.
As long as the Rangers muster the will and have Gibson in goal, they still have a chance at drawing out the series as long as possible.
Owen Sound 4 Plymouth 3 (series tied 2-2) — Can the Whalers beat Owen Sound Attack twice with a compromised lineup? First Washington Capitals first-rounder Tom Wilson went down in Game 1 of the series, now Plymouth is missing a lot more sandpaper after gritty suffered an apparent wrist injury. Those are two fairly important forwards, but Plymouth still has ample scoring punch on hand with the likes of Vince Trocheck (nine playoff goals) still on deck.
Matt Mahalak or Alex Nedeljkovic in Plymouth's net for a critical Game 5 on Friday? The 17-year-old Nedeljkovic was removed after Owen Sound scored on four of its first 18 shots to open a 4-0 lead. Mahalak, the 19-year-old Carolina Hurricanes sixth-rounder who had not appeared since the start of the playoffs, stopped all 15 shots he faced. The contrast probably wasn't attributable to either goalie, but if Mahalak in goal gives Plymouth a fresh outlook, a change might make sense.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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