WINDSOR, Ontario – The Erie Otters are still alive. They can credit Anthony Luciani for that.
Luciani scored his fourth goal of the game 4 minutes, 3 seconds into the overtime in Game 5 to seal the Otters 6-5 win against Windsor in front of 5,945 at WFCU Centre on Friday night.
Luciani stole the puck from Spitfires all-star defenseman Ryan Ellis at the side of the net and slipped a shot through goaltender Jack Campbell’s pads to force Game 6 on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at Tullio Arena.
Otters goaltender Ramis Sadikov (career-high 50 saves) began the game with 10 goals against on his last 70 shots in the past two games. But he was strong through an 18-shot barrage from the Spitfires in the opening period.
Meanwhile, the Otters scored the only goal of the period, as Luciani redirected Phil Varone’s cross-crease pass past Campbell at the 7:11 mark. The Otters had 12 shots in the period.
Sadikov also strong stood through the Spitfires’ 5-on-3 power play early in the second. Yet as the second penalty expired, Spitfires defenseman Adrian Robertson fired a shot from the right side that squeezed through Sadikov’s pads to tie the score at 1 just 3:34 into the period.
But the Otters’ power play awakened in the period. The Otters entered the game having failed on 24 of their first 27 chances. But they scored on three straight chances in a seven-minute span to take a 4-1 lead.
Varone split two defenders at the Spitfires’ blue line and fired a wrist shot past Campbell to break the 1-1 tie at the 8:55 mark. Less than three minutes later, Varone assisted on defenseman Derek Holden’s goal.
Holden fired a wrist shot through a screen to extend Erie’s lead to 3-1. Then Luciani deflected Holden’s shot from the point past Campbell for a 4-1 Otters’ lead with four minutes left in the period.
Varone set up the goal by diving to keep the puck in the zone on a clearing attempt and then making a cross-ice pass to Holden for his third assist and fourth point of the game.
The Otters led 4-1 after two periods despite being outshot 14-9 in the second and 32-20 in the game.
The Spitfires gained some momentum on Alexander Khokhlachev’s power-play goal 4:41 into the third period. But Luciani completed his hat trick – the eighth three-goal game in the franchise’s playoff history – by firing a rebound into an open net 1:10 later. Varone assisted on the goal to tie the Otters’ single-game playoff record with five points set by Brad Boyes (twice) in 2002.
Windsor moved within 5-3 on Kerby Rychel’s goal in front with 10:57 left. Then the Spitfires completed their dramatic comeback with two goals in 41 seconds. Jake Carrick slid a shot past Sadikov to slice the deficit to 5-4 with 3:50 left. Then during a wild scramble in front of the net, Ellis fired a slap shot through the crowd to tie the score at 5 with 3:09 left.
Windsor outshot the Otters 22-7 in the period to extend their advantage to 54-27 heading into overtime.
But Luciani scored on the game’s final shot to seal the Otters’ dramatic win.
* News and notes: The 55 shots against were four shy of the Otters’ postseason record (59 vs. Sarnia on March 26, 2002). … Varone also tied the Otters’ mark of four assists in a playoff game set by Boyes against Sarnia on March 23, 2002, and tied by Chris Campoli against the Sting two years later. … Holden had a goal and two assists. … Coach Robbie Ftorek said Andrew Yogan didn’t travel with the team to Windsor because he was sick. … Campbell allowed six goals on 31 shots in the loss. He has allowed 10 goals on his last 57 shots after stopping 105-of-112 shots in the first three games.
No. 4 Windsor vs. No. 5 Erie
Game 1 – Erie 2, Windsor 1
Game 2 – Windsor 4, Erie 3 (2OT)
Game 3 – Windsor 6, Erie 2
Game 4 – Windsor 7, Erie 4
Game 5 – Erie 6, Windsor 5 (OT)
Game 6 – Sunday at Erie, 4:30 p.m.
Game 7 – Tuesday at Windsor, 7:05 p.m.*
Windsor leads series 3-2
* If necessary
Otters 6, Spitfires 5 (OT)
Erie 1 3 1 0 — 5
Windsor 0 1 4 0 — 5
1st Period — 1. Erie, Anthony Luciani 2 (Varone, Shields), 7:11. Penalties — Khokhlachev (W) tripping, :44; Szydlowski (E) hooking, 2:55.
2nd Period — 2. Windsor, Adrian Robertson 1 (Carnevale, Johnston), 3:34. 3. Erie, Phil Varone 2 (Holden, Sadikov), 8:55 (pp). 4. Erie, Derek Holden 1 (Varone, Cairns), 11:15 (pp). 5. Erie, Luciani 3 (Holden, Varone), 16:00 (pp). Penalties — Szydlowski (E) elbowing, :46; Shields (E) delay of game, 1:34; Kuhnhackl (W) roughing, 7:13; Johnston (W) checking to the head, 10:45; Kassian (E) slashing, 14:58.
3rd Period — 6. Windsor, Alexander Khokhlachev 3 (Robertson, Kuhnhackl), 4:41 (pp). 7. Erie, Luciani 4 (Varone), 5:51. 8. Windsor, Kerby Rychel 1 (Carnevale, Ellis), 9:03. 9. Windsor, Jake Carrick 4 (Kuhnhackl, Khokhlachev), 16:10. 10. Windsor, Ryan Ellis 3 (Kassian, Brown), 16:51. Penalties — Cook (E) holding, 3:52; Erie, too many men (served by Luciani), 11:59.
Overtime — 11. Erie, Luciani 5 (unassisted), 4:03. Penalties — None.
Shots on goal — Erie, 11-9-7-4—31; Windsor, 18-14-22-1—55.
Goaltenders — Erie, Ramis Sadikov 2-2-1 (55 shots, 50 saves); Windsor, Jack Campbell 3-1-1 (31 shots, 25 saves).
Power plays — Erie (3-4), Windsor (1-5).
Referees — Darcy Burchell, Scott Oakman. Linesmen — Darryl Wolfe, Geoff Rutherford.
Attendance — 5,945.
* Anthony Luciani, Otters (4 goals) ** Phil Varone, Otters (goal, 4 assists) *** Adrian Robertson, Spitfires (goal, assist)