PETERBOROUGH -- The biggest unwritten rule in the OHL used to be to keep the London Knights off the power play.
Now it's avoid the Peterborough Petes in overtime.
London defenceman David Halasz was pushed into the net by Peterborough captain Jamie Tardif and forward Fredrik Naslund knocked home a loose puck 3:17 into the extra period to send the Knights to their second straight overtime defeat, 4-3 in a chippy Game 2 before 3,800 yesterday at the Peterborough Memorial Centre.
Naslund scored on London rookie Steve Mason, who was making his first career postseason start with the league's top goalie Adam Dennis nursing a "lower body injury." Mason, who had only seen 47 minutes of relief in two previous playoff games, was an emergency replacement when Dennis tried to go in warmup, then decided he couldn't play.
"We'll see how it works out Tuesday (for Game 3)," Dennis said. "It's disappointing because you always want to be able to help the team. We're down now and we're going to have to find a way to come back."
The Knights trail the best-of-seven OHL final to Peterborough, who improved to a stunning 8-0 in overtime play this post-season and remained a perfect 9-0 on home ice this spring. Those figures didn't impress the Knights, who only got six power-play opportunities to Peterborough's 10.
"The reffing's a joke," a steamed London forward Rob Schremp said. "Scott Aarssen gets grabbed in a headlock in overtime and there's no call. Ryan Martinelli gets speared (by Peterborough's Steve Downie at the end of regulation) and there's no call. It was inconsistent out there."
Schremp, who scored twice and forced overtime with his second goal early in the third period, was given a 10-minute misconduct for arguing at game's end.
London head coach Dale Hunter wasn't impressed with the dimensions of Peterborough's arena, which has small, pronounced corners that cause wacky bounces on dump-in attempts.
"They spent $10 million on the place and they've got boards from 1902," Hunter said. "It makes it tough on our defencemen. Maybe we should practise in a barn (to get ready to play there). The Petes are used to it but we know now and it'll be better (for Game 4)."
The Petes didn't take kindly to hearing their old rink being insulted and said the bounces are there for both teams to use to their advantage.
"That sounds like an excuse," Peterborough forward Steve Downie said. "I thought the refs were pretty consistent and even."
The Knights have to figure out what to do after falling behind by two games for the first time in eight playoffs series. The last time they faced a two-game deficit was the 2004 Western Conference final against Guelph when they rallied to force a Game 7 at the John Labatt Centre, only to lose 6-3.
London could have to ride Mason, who beat the Petes 4-1 on Feb. 17 in London and kicked aside 52 shots for the victory, as fill-in while Dennis was serving a suspension for leaving the crease to fight with Plymouth goalie Justin Peters.
"That's my job as Adam's backup," he said. "If it's me, I'm ready to go."
London also dropped veteran Trevor Kell back to defence for the first time since early in the Western Conference final. The 19-year-old Thunder Bay native made his debut on defence in the Knights' only trip to Peterborough on March 2, which was the same unforgettable game that began with four fights in eight seconds on consecutive faceoffs.
There not a lot of respect shown between the two teams.
In the second period, London forward Kris Belan nailed Peterborough defenceman Aaron Dawson from behind to give the Petes a two-man advantage for two minutes.
The Petes didn't score and Belan punished them by jumping out of the box and hammering Game 1 hero Patrick Kaleta to earn an additional 10-minute misconduct.
"That's what Belan's there for," Downie said. "We expect that from him."
Petes 4, London 3 (OT)
Peterborough leads best-of-seven OHL final 2-0
Peterborough goals: Daniel Ryder (2), Patrick Kaleta and Fredrik Naslund, with the winner 3:17 into overtime.
London goals: Rob Schremp (2), Dylan Hunter
Next: Game 3 is tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre.