With a 4-2 road win over the Plymouth Whalers Saturday night, the London Knights have sole possession of the second-longest winning streak in Ontario Hockey League history. They surpassed the 2009-10 Barrie Colts’ run of 22 straight victories and need three more to eclipse the 1983-84 Kitchener Rangers’ 25-win surge.
The latest installment of London’s two-month-long conquest was hardly lacking in drama. With precisely 33 seconds to spare, goaltender Jake Patterson had to deal with a penalty shot awarded to the Whalers’ Garrett Meurs, though the Colorado Avalanche prospect fumbled before he could get a shot off.
In the evening’s tone-setting phases, it took the Knights more than half of regulation to perk up their offense, which has practically doubled the opposition’s output, 97-49, in its last 23 outings.
Since the Knights began their streak, only six adversaries have kept them scoreless through the first 20 minutes. The Whalers made themselves that sixth opponent Saturday, preserving a 0-0 deadlock through intermission despite a five-shot salvo during the first of two unanswered London power plays.
Delete that shorthanded segment, the consequence of an offensive-zone charging foul committed by Tom Wilson at 6:27, and Plymouth led the first-period shooting gallery, 8-7. The Whalers later kept the Knights shotless on their second man-advantage, and the contesting clubs otherwise traded more fleeting and less sustained attacks on each other’s property.
More than a full period after Wilson’s teammates bailed him out on that opening penalty kill, the Washington Capitals’ first-rounder nailed the opening goal at 11:46 of the middle frame.
But when they threatened a follow-up off the ensuing faceoff, the Whalers woke up the Knights’ inner dragon, and their 1-0 lead devolved into a deficit in a matter of two minutes and eight seconds.
With 12:06 gone, Plymouth goaltender Matt Mahalak left a loose rebound and a cage too wide open, allowing an oncoming Matt Rupert to connect for the equalizer. Another minute and 48 seconds passed before the 2013 NHL draft-eligible Max Domi cut out of the near angle and roofed a backhander whilst falling to his knees.
The Knights scored once more before intermission on their third conversion in five stabs at 18:50, Bo Horvat’s feed from behind the net tapping the blade of Toronto Maple Leafs draftee Ryan Rupert and squeaking past Mahalak.
Brett Welychka, coming off a hat trick in Windsor on Thursday, augmented the lead to 4-1 at 6:20 of the third, finishing the same odd-man rush that he started with a homeward-bound slapper from the alley to the left of Mahalak. A six-on-five conversion by Plymouth’s Zach Bratina with 1:44 to spare in regulation effectively finalized the 4-2 score.
Al Daniel is an NHL Featured Columnist for the Bleacher Report. This story was filed on site at Compuware Arena.
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