It certainly wasn’t pretty, but right now the Erie Otters don’t care how the wins come, as long as they keep coming.
So despite being outshot 50-19 and having to rely on another spectacular night by goaltender Oscar Dansk after a less-than-stellar defensive performance, Erie gladly stole a 6-1victory and two crucial points from the East Division leading Oshawa General after Dansk stopped 49-of-50 shots in front of 2,917 rowdy fans at Erie Insurance Arena.
“He played a (great) game,” said Erie assistant coach Peter Sidorkiewicz, who filled in for head coach Robbie Ftorek in the postgame press conference. “He’s playing really well. He had a little fight in him and we were playing a good hockey game. And at the end of the day, it’s a 6-1 win.”
The win, coupled by Friday’s 6-3 victory against Peterborough, marks the first winning streak of the season. Erie came into the game 0-5 in games following a win this season. And if you took a quick glance at the shot clock – 50-19 in favor of Oshawa – you may have thought the Otters pushed that number to 0-6. But that certainly wasn’t the case.
“You know they are going to throwing everything at you,” Sidorkiewicz said. “They got give guys coming, both ‘D’ are pinching and coming off the rush, and you know that’s going to happen.”
It certainly wasn’t a solid effort by any means in the third period from a defensive unit that has struggled to lockdown the opposition when it comes to generating opportunities.
But, the Otters had two things going in their favor – the play from Dansk and an offensive unit that made the most of their chances.
Both teams played a primarily sloppy and stop-and-go first period with no game pace being set. But Erie’s Adam Pelech ripped a shot through traffic that found the back of the net behind Oshawa goalie Kenny Appleby.
Pelech’s second in as many games tied the game after Oshawa’s Sebastian Uvira got just enough on a loose puck to beat Dansk to open the scoring in the first.
It was the first time in Pelech’s career that he scored in back-to-back games and the defenseman, who has battled several injuries early on this season, finished the night with three points.
Despite being outshot 16-5 and spending the majority of the second period in their defensive zone, Erie managed to extend its lead to 3-1 thanks to goals by Stephen Harper and J.P. Labardo. Labardo was acquired from the Generals earlier this season and has been a mainstay on the top line with Connor McDavid and Connor Brown, a line that has produced a total of 73 points in 20 games.
But the second period was once again highlighted by Dansk, who stopped a barrage of shots in the late stages with a string of five consecutive saves in a flurry in front of his own net. Several of which came against Boone Jenner, the Generals’ top weapon on offense. Jenner and Dansk are both draft picks of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets.
Jenner was held off the scoresheet and finished the night with a plus/minus rating of -4.
And once again, the Generals brought it to the Otters in the third period, spending more than 10 minutes in the attacking zone and finished the period with 23 shots on goal, giving the visitors a total of 50 on the night.
But it was Erie who would light the lamp three times on six shots.
“We talked to our guys and told them they would get their chances,” Sidorkiewicz said. “And when we got our chances, we stuck it right up their rear ends.”
McDavid’s pretty wrap-around goal, his 11th of season, 9:16 into the third sparked another scoring frenzy with Harper following with a diving empty-net goal and concluded with Luke Cairns finishing off a great individual effort by Connor Crisp with his fourth of the season.
In all, five different Otters registered at least two points, while Brown earned three assists. Brown, the team captain, finished the weekend with seven points.
It was a weekend the Otters (6-11-1-2) needed. They climbed out of the cellar of the league and appear to heading in the right direction. Now, the key is to keep it going. They will get that opportunity sooner than later as the Niagara IceDogs will make the short trip to Erie Insurance Arena on Wednesday. That game is slated for a 7:00 p.m. start.