By Jared Crozier, SenShot
For the third straight game, the Ottawa 67's had their hands full facing off against one of the top 10 ranked teams in the CHL. After losing on the road in Barrie and then Owen Sound, the Barber Poles returned home to face the division rival Oshawa Generals. The 67's did come away with a point, but probably deserved a better fate as they skated to a 4-3 shootout loss. Tyler Biggs was the beneficiary of a couple of horrendous giveaways, and scored two of the easiest goals he will ever score for the Generals, the second one forcing overtime. Ottawa tallied three times with the man advantage, but could not capitalize on a 5 minute major late in regulation and overtime as they let a valuable point slip away.
Keegan Wilson was bowled over twice in the first 12 minutes, but both incidents led to Ottawa interference penalties. Ottawa killed off the first one, but Boone Jenner made them pay shortly after the second one started, wiring a quick slap shot past Wilson to break the ice at the 11:53 mark. Ottawa's best chance of the period came in the dying seconds when both Ryan Van Stralen and Dante Salituro had quality chances off an Oshawa turnover, but they couldn't beat Daniel Altshuller. The 67's were outshot 10-6 in the opening frame.
Ottawa got on the board early in the second as Sean Monahan picked up a loose puck at the side of the Oshawa goal and tucked it in the open cage for the power play tally. Biggs put the Generals back in front after Mathieu Desautels reversed the puck to nobody in particular behind the net, and with everyone moving the wrong direction, the Leafs first rounder had an open net to tap the puck in. Remy Giftopoulos answered on another power play as Cody Ceci set up behind the Generals net and fed a nice pass to Giftopoulos for a quick one-timer with just under 5 minutes left in the second. It was a much better period for the 67's as they used the man advantages, of which there were many, to establish some momentum against a talented Oshawa club.
Monahan came out flying and had three great chances in the first 70 seconds of the third. Alas, he rang the first one off both posts and was denied alone in close on the next two. Ottawa scored their third power play goal of the night when Jake Cardwell used a spin-o-rama to elude a Generals forward at the blue line. His shot was tipped by Monahan and stopped, but Van Stralen tapped home the rebound to put the 67's on top for the first time in the game. Oshawa took advantage of a turnover from Wilson behind his own net to tie the score. After Wilson's attempt to ring it around the boards was intercepted and Wilson subsequently got trapped behind his net, Biggs scored his second gimme of the game from the corner. He banked it in off Wilson, who was still scrambling to get back into his crease. After a five minute major was assessed to Scott Laughton in the closing minutes, the 67's couldn't end it in regulation, but still had over two minutes of the man advantage left heading into overtime. The extra period solved nothing and there was more bonus action to be had in the format of a shootout.
After Tyler Graovac and Boone Jenner exchanged shootout goals, extra shooters were required. Giftopoulos missed, setting the stage for Scott Sabourin's winner.
OBSERVATIONS AND MUSINGS
The 67's took some time to get their legs moving. They registered their first shot on goal 10:27 in, which drew a Bronx Cheer from the sparse midweek crowd.
Ottawa had to smile a little bit when they didn't see Lucas Lessio in the lineup for the Generals. Lessio has been a thorn in the 67's side in the past and a pain to play against, especially last season.
It was a very tough stretch of games against quality opponents in the past week. The team didn't look very good in Barrie, Owen Sound was a better effort, and they really deserved the two points against Oshawa, but had to settle for one.
Up next is a vital home and home with the Kingston Frontenacs, in Kingston Friday and then at home on Monday morning for theannual school day game. It is unusual for Ottawa to be behind the Frontenacs in the standings, but that is exactly where they find themselves at the moment. They sit three points behind Kingston and sweeping the mini-series is very important to any playoff hopes for the 67's, even this early in the season.