The Windsor Spitfires have taken command of their series with the Erie Otters.
The Spitfires exploded for seven goals on 42 shots in a 7-4 win against the Otters in Game 4 of their best-of-seven quarterfinal series, played in front of 3,316 at Tullio Arena on Wednesday night.
The Spitfires, which lead 3-1 in the series, can eliminate the Otters with a win in Game 5 on Friday night at 7:05 p.m. at WFCU Centre in Windsor, Ontario. Seven Spitfires contributed multiple points in the win.
Tom Kuhnhackl led the way with two goals and two assists. Alexander Khokhlachev (two goals, assist) and Jake Carrick (goal, two assists) had three points apiece. David Shields had two points for the Otters.
The shootout many expected from two of the OHL’s top offenses finally erupted in the first period.
The teams scored five goals on 15 shots, with the Spitfires building a 3-2 lead. Windsor scored on their first two shots to chase Otters goaltender Ramis Sadikov from the game for the second straight outing.
Kuhnhackl, who left Game 3 early on Monday with an apparent leg injury, beat Sadikov for a 1-0 lead 1:27 into the opening period. Khokhlachev scored from in front at the 3:52 mark.
Tyler Hostetter scored less than five minutes later to slice the Otters’ deficit to 2-1, only to have Stephen Johnston score on the power play against rookie backup Chris Festarini with 7:06 left in the period to regain the Spitfires’ two-goal lead. Windsor scored its first three goals on four shots.
Then with 4:15 left in the period, Shields slipped a shot past Spitfires goaltender Jack Campbell to send the Otters into the first intermission trailing 3-2. The Otters scored twice on nine shots.
But Zack Kassian’s first goal of the series 47 seconds into the second period, which handed the Spitfires a 4-2 lead, forced Otters coach Robbie Ftorek to send Sadikov back into the game.
Greg McKegg pulled the Otters within a goal again at 4-3, as he fired a rebound of Shawn Szydlowski’s shot off the post past Campbell 4:56 into the period. But McKegg’s goaltender interference penalty led to Kuhnhackl’s power-play score – his second goal of the game and series – that extended the Spitfires’ lead to 5-3 with 11:27 left in the period. Carrick scored five minutes later for a 6-3 lead.
The Spitfires scored those six goals on 18 shots. The Otters moved within 6-4 at the 5:01 mark of the third period, as Mike Cazzola poked in a rebound late in a 5-on-3 opportunity. But Khokhlachev scored his second goal of the night less than 2 minutes later to extend Windsor’s lead to 7-4. Windsor outshot the Otters 22-7 in the third to finish with a 48-26 advantage.
- Victor Fernandes
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 – Friday at Windsor, 7:05 p.m.
Game 6 – Sunday at Erie, 4:30 p.m.*
Game 7 – Tuesday at Windsor, 7:05 p.m.*
Windsor leads series 3-1
* If necessary
Spitfires 7, Otters 4
Windsor 3 3 1 — 7
Erie 2 1 1 — 4
1st Period — 1. Windsor, Tom Kuhnhackl 1 (Duininck), 1:27. 2. Windsor, Alexander Khokhlachev 1 (Robertson, Kuhnhackl), 3:52. 3. Erie, Tyler Hostetter 1 (Festarini), 8:27. 4. Windsor, Stephen Johnston 3 (Kassian, Duininck), 12:54 (pp). 5. Erie, David Shields 1 (Luciani, Holden), 15:45. Penalties — Rychel (W) tripping, 4:11; Cook (E) checking from behind, 12:16; Carrick (W) hooking, 14:08; Thompson (E) tripping, 15:31.
2nd Period — 6. Windsor, Zack Kassian 1 (Ryan, Johnston), :47. 7. Erie, Greg McKegg 2 (Szydlowski, Shields), 4:56. 8. Windsor, Kuhnhackl 2 (Carrick, Khokhlachev), 8:33 (pp). 9. Windsor, Jake Carrick 3 (Kuhnhackl), 13:34. Penalties — McKegg (E) goaltender interference, 8:24; Kassian (W) roughing, 15:51.
3rd Period — 10. Erie, Mike Cazzola 3 (Szydlowski, Varone), 5:01 (pp). 11. Windsor, Khokhlachev 2 (Carrick, Robertson), 6:50. Penalties — Luciani (E) 4-min. roughing, 2:04; Khokhlachev (W) roughing, 2:04; Robertson (W) roughing, 2:04; Varone (E) slashing, 2:04; Ellis (E) slashing, 3:04; Johnston (W) tripping, 4:21; Carnevale (W) holding, 9:37; Luciani (E) roughing, 13:09; Szydlowski (E) slashing, 14:44; Kassian (W) roughing, 14:44; Crisp (E) slashing, 17:00.
Shots on goal — Windsor, 9-17-22—42; Erie, 6-13-7—26.
Goaltenders — Windsor, Jack Campbell 3-1-0 (26 shots, 22 saves); Erie, Ramis Sadikov 1-2-1 (37shots, 32 saves), Chris Festarini (11 shots, 9 saves).
Power plays — Windsor (2-6), Erie (1-6).
Referees — Craig Spada, Mike Cairns. Linesmen — Darryl Wolfe, Matthew Traub.
Attendance — 3,316.
* Tom Kuhnhackl, Spitfires (2 goals, 2 assists) ** Alexander Khokhlachev, Spitfires (2 goals, assist) *** Mike Cazzola, Otters (goal)