The expectations on the Rangers have been high all season, one would debate unreasonably high, they are expected to win, each and every night and then on top of that, when they are facing teams sitting lower in the standings, winning isn't good enough, a rout is necessary. There was an overwhelming sense that Kitchener's win over the Otters on Friday night was a little deficient. It's an awkward weekend for the Rangers it wa a home-at-home mini-series, while the same could not be said for the Otters who were playing their third game in three nights afterlose to the Ottawa 67's during the previous night in a shootout in Erie. It was Erie's only Sunday night game and despite their record this season, still respectfully attended. Somewhere in the midst of a very dominant first period Justin Azevedo notched his 100th career OHL goal. He took the puck from behind the net emerging shortside and finding room for the puck between Jaroslav Janus' pads. The Rangers were all over the Otters but for the second straight game, Janus was tormenting the hard working crew from Kitchener.
The Otters were extremely fortunate to emerge
from the first period only down by one goal. The Rangers were rolling
all four lines along with their potent 3 lines of defense. They weren't
just facing the team in the OHL with the worst record, but one who was
missing top scorers: Nick Palmieri who had returned home for the weekend
for personal reasons and top scorer: Justin Hodgman was out of the lineup
due to his ejection from the Friday night game in Kitchener after an arguement
with an official. The third in three nights appeared to be too much
for the Otters, in the second period the wheels really fell off.
Not just for the team playing infront of: Janus, but Jaroslav Janus himself
couldn't keep standing on his head. The Rangers picked up an early
power play and only took 14 seconds to strike with Nick Spaling tipping
the puck past Janus giving the Rangers a two goal bulge in the period's
first minute. Mike Duco intercepted a pass and roofed a slapshot
top corner on Janus. The highlight goal of the period had to be Dostionov's
second period tally. Steve Mason caught Justin Azevedo, who was waiting
at the Otters' blueline with a pass during a line change and Azevedo found
Dostionov on his way to the net, for a picture perfect goal.
The Rangers let off a little in the backend of the second period, relegating the top line of: Azevedo, Spaling and Boedker to spot duty for the duration of the game. But the Rangers and their relentless forecheck didn't really slow down on the Otters pinning them in their own zone. Over the duration of the first 40 minutes of the game the Rangers outshot the Otters 35-9 over the first two periods. Frustration was evident on the faces' of Otters fans who have witnessed their team play reasonably well on home ice down the stretch while continuing to struggle on the road. One would think that some of the tougher stuff would emerge during this game after what happened at the buzzer during the Friday night game in Kitchener with Luke Gazdic attempting to attack the Rangers' bench on his way to the locker room. The only real rough stuff that happened in this matchup occured early in the first period when Michael Liambus hit Mike Duco from behind and into the Otters' bench. Alex Dzielski who was a healthy scratch during the previous head-to-head matchup decided to take matters into his own hands. The two fought, but there was some confusion when the linesmen were trying to break up the fight, and Alex Dzielski managed to punch one of the officials in the back of the head.
First overall selection: Ryan O'Reilly broke up the shutout bid at the midway point of the third period. The Otters picked up a power play opportunity and former Ranger: Doug Clarkson was the one who set up O'Reilly. Aside from the two recent games against the Rangers, Clarkson has been out of the Otters' lineup injured for most of the season since being traded by the Rangers with an injury. Brandon Mashinter and Mike Mascioli got together on a goal late in the third and T.J. Battani increased the Rangers' margin to 6-1 shortly after. The Rangers claimed the season-series 7-1 winning their 6th consecutive season-series over the Erie Otters. For the thrid straight game of the weekend, Justin Azevedo was the first star of the game, and it was shocking since his ice time was limited. Azevedo not only had his 100th goal of his OHL career, but also the OHL points lead.