Before the 67’s back-up took to the crease in a 2-0 victory over the Peterborough Petes, their number one, Petr Mrazek, impressed the nation and the world with a dazzling 52 save performance and a 5-2 Czk Republic win against the United States at the World Junior Championships in Edmonton. And back home, Michael Nishi proved that he’s no slouch as he backstopped Ottawa to victory, making 25 saves for his first career shutout. It was the goalie’s fifth win in six games as a 67 since being acquired from Sault Ste Marie. The victory bumped the 67’s’ record for the month to an impressive 7-3, with confidence riding high going into 2012.
Peterborough goaltender Mike Morrison was also a star on this night, making 42 saves against a constant Ottawa onslaught, but he was the losing goaltender in the end thanks to Shane Prince, who scored the first and winning goal of the night in the 3rd period.
Ottawa was given an early chance to take the lead. They had three powerplays in the first period, totalling nine shots, but couldn’t beat the Petes’ goaltender, who stood on his head for the entire period. Peterborough’s first shot came 12 and a half minutes into game, as Ottawa outshot their opponents 15-7 in the first.
The 67’s inability to solve Morrison led to Coach and GM Chris Bryne splitting up the top line, putting Dalton Smith up with Toffoli and Monahan, while Prince was united with Ryan Van Stralen and Tyler Graovac. The move was intended to spread the offense around, Bryne said after the game.
“(We) needed a different look. They played well tonight… they had a ton of chances in the second where I thought they’d score, but they played really well tonight.”
The line shake-up seemed to work as Prince, Graovac and Van Stralen – the best offensive line of the night- created a number of chances, buzzing around the net with a furious pace. The second period was much the same as the first, as Ottawa outshot the Petes again by a 20-8 margin, and had 18 scoring chances through two periods to Peterborough’s two.
Neither goaltender seemed to want to give an inch on this night, and the game looked destined for overtime. Peterborough began to push back in the third, firing 10 shots in Nishi’s direction, but the goaltender looked cool and calm under pressure, making a half dozen key positional saves.
“It’s an even better experience when you see the team executing the game plan to a tee. We were great offensively and defensively tonight; they blocked a ton of shots for me. It was a good team game,” said a smiling Nishi after the game.
The newly formed line of Prince, Graovac and Van Stralen eventually broke the tie at 12:49 of the third as Prince circled the net with the puck and, with a sizeable crowd in front of the net, snapped a low shot that beat Morrison along the ice to his right side.
Dalton Smith would add his eighth of the season into an empty net at 19:08 to seal the game for Ottawa.
Game notes: Attendance was 6,343. Ottawa outshot Peterborough 44-25. Ottawa was 0/5 on the powerplay, while Peterborough was 0/3. Ottawa’s next game is Sunday afternoon in Kingston; puck drop is at 2 p.m. The 67’s return home next Friday, January 6th as they open a weekend home-and-home with the Belleville Bulls. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or via our website.