But the Greyhounds exploded for three straight goals in a span of 3 minutes, 6 seconds early in the second period on their way to a 6-3 win against the Otters in front of 2,869 at Tullio Arena.
Nick Cousins, Mark Petaccio and Ryan Sproul scored in that decisive span, which gave the Greyhounds a 3-0 lead. The Otters responded on rookie Stephen Harper’s first of two goals 6:14 into the second.
Sault Ste. Marie finished the period with David Quesnele’s goal at the 18:13 mark to regain a three-goal advantage at 4-1, only to have the Otters slice that lead to 4-3 with less than six minutes left in the game.
Jimmy McDowell scored his first goal as an Otter – and only the eighth in 161 career OHL games – 2:18 into the third period to move the Otters within 4-2. Then Harper scored his second goal – and 19th of the season – on the power play with 5:44 remaining to slice the Greyhounds’ lead to one goal.
The Otters earned their third and final power-play chance of the night with one minute left. But Sproul scored short-handed into an empty net seven seconds later to seal the Greyhounds’ victory.
The Otters, which fell to 9-43-3-2 on the season, also received two assists from Luke Cairns. Ramis Sadikov stopped 30-of-35 shots in a losing effort. Matt Murray had 30 saves for the Greyhounds.
Cousins paced Sault Ste. Marie (24-29-2-4) with his team-leading 31st goal of the season and two assists.
Ryan Sproul scored two goals while Brandon Alderson and Quesnele added a goal and assist apiece. David Broll had an assist against his former team. The Otters return to action today at 7 p.m. at home against Kingston.
Greyhounds 6, Otters 3
Sault Ste. Marie 0 4 2 — 6
Erie 0 1 2 — 3
1st Period — None. Penalties — None.
2nd Period — 1. Sault Ste. Marie, Nick Cousins 31 (Broll, Alderson), 1:25. 2. Sault Ste. Marie, Mark Petaccio 5 (Staples), 3:44. 3. Sault Ste. Marie, Ryan Sproul 15 (Cousins), 4:31. 4. Erie, Stephen Harper 18 (Cairns, Brown), 6:14. 5. Sault Ste. Marie, David Quesnele 10 (Dubchak), 18:13. Penalties — Alderson (S) cross checking, 11:22; Pelech (E) hooking, 14:35; McDowell (E) interference, 16:23. Penalty shot — Cousins (S) no goal, 16:23.
3rd Period — 6. Erie, Jimmy McDowell 2 (Cairns), 2:18. 7. Erie, Harper 19 (Pelech, Brown), 14:16 (pp). 8. Sault Ste. Marie, Brandon Alderson 15 (Cousins, Nurse), 15:57. 9. Sault Ste. Marie, Sproul 16 (Quesnele), 19:07 (sh-en). Penalties — McCarthy (E) slashing, 9:53; Fuller (S) hooking, 13:34; Durocher (S) delay of game, 19:00.
Shots on goal — Sault Ste. Marie, 14-10-12—36; Erie, 3-16-14—33.
Goaltenders — Sault Ste. Marie, Matt Murray 12-17-0-1 (33 shots, 30 saves); Erie, Ramis Sadikov 5-21-3-1 (35 shots, 30 saves).
Power plays — Sault Ste. Marie (0-2), Erie (1-3).
Referees — Pat Myers, Seth Ferguson. Linesmen — Ryan Holmstead, Darryl Wolfe.
Attendance — 2,869.
* Stephen Harper, Otters (2 goals) ** Nick Cousins, Greyhounds (goal, 2 assists) *** Luke Cairns, Otters (2 assists)