Carlson adds to workload

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

OSHAWA -- Defenceman John Carlson is playing 30 minutes a game anyway.

So when the London Knights needed to turn to someone to help shut down the OHL's leading scorer, John Tavares, who else were they going to send out there for the job?

The same guy they send out there for everything else.

Carlson, the big NHL first-round pick of the Washington Capitals, held the Oshawa Generals star and next summer's potential first overall pick in check and even opened the scoring as part of London's five-goal first period as the Knights topped the Generals 6-3 before 3,865 spectators yesterday at the General Motors Centre.

"I played against him (Tavares) before when we were younger at a prospects tournament in Toronto," the six-foot-two, 215-pounder from Colonia, N.J., said.

"I knew he was a good player and that I'd have to do my best to get in front of him.

"The team did a great job. We hadn't been scoring a lot the last few games, but we knew we a few bounces would eventually go our way and they did.

"Now, we have a nice little streak going here with wins in four of our last five games."

Sometimes, all it takes offensively is a change of pace -- and some new equipment.

"I was having some stick trouble, but give credit to Magic Man Mats (Knights equipment manager Chris Maton)," Carlson said.

"He got me a new stick and I scored on the first shot with it.

"We jumped on them early and when they took a penalty, we made them pay (with three power-play goals)."

Unless he gets traded in the next two weeks, Tavares will become the Generals' all-time goals leader -- but it won't be because of success scoring against the Knights at home.

The 18-year-old -- now eight goals behind Tony Tanti's team mark of 177 -- scored in the third period to give him 12 goals already this season.

He has only scored twice against the Knights at home in four years -- once as a 15-year-old in his rookie season of 2005-06 against Buffalo prospect Adam Dennis and yesterday against Jason Guy.

"We didn't show enough urgency," Tavares said,. "We need to come out a little bit quicker. We were behind right away (5-1) and it makes it tough to come back."

Tavares scored his goal on a power play with Scott Aarssen in the box for four minutes on a high-sticking call.

"John (Carlson) did a good job against him," London head coach Dale Hunter said. "He (Tavares) scored, but it was a power-play goal and there's not much you can do about that. It was an accident -- Scott Aarssen got his stick up. It wasn't on purpose."

The Knights blitzed Oshawa first-rounder Kevin Bailie for four goals in the first 11:28 and he was replaced quickly by veteran Daryl Borden. Bailie, a 16-year-old from Belleville, entered the game sporting a perfect 4-0 record and 1.71 goals against average.

"He's a young guy, a rookie, but we tried to get pucks on the net on him as much as we could," Hunter said. "He's going to be a good goalie. We just got a few early."

While the Knights chased Bailie, Carlson has the kind of skill set that can frustrate Tavares. He is big, extremely mobile, intelligent and doesn't fatigue easily.

"Playing 30 minutes a game is a lot and you have to take care of your body, especially with three games in four days," Carlson said. "You have to make sure you get your rest and that's what I try to do."

He didn't indulge during his first Canadian Thanksgiving weekend with a lot of turkey and pumpkin pie.

"My parents came up from New Jersey and my billets made a brunch for us and I just tried to relax on our day off (Sunday)," he said.

Carlson played physically against Tavares, but didn't take any cheap shots. He was given a roughing penalty on one big hit in the corner and escaped the box on a strange one -- he flipped the puck over the glass into the penalty box area but, according to the ruling, that part of the rink is considered the same as the benches, so delay of game isn't in play.

"I have to double-check that rule," Oshawa head coach Chris DePiero said.

"There's a reason why he's (Tavares) leading the league in scoring," London assistant coach Pat Curcio said. "He's out on the penalty kill, he's logging 25, 27 minutes a game. If you try to get physical against him, you're going to take penalties.

"It's pretty hard to have one guy out there against him."

But Carlson was a pretty good guy to have at their disposal.

RINKSIDE

London forward Akim Aliu sat out his third straight game since he was returned to the junior ranks by the Chicago Blackhawks. He's still nursing a groin injury . . . The Generals make their trip to London Jan. 9, one day before the trade deadline.

Knights 6, Generals 3

London goals: John Carlson, Kale Kerbashian, Jared Knight, Steve Tarasuk, Matt Clarke, Phil Varone

Oshawa goals: Jeff Brown, John Tavares, Conor Stokes

Next: London gets it first look at OHL first-rounder Steve Shipley of Ilderton when Owen Sound visits the JLC Friday at 7:30 p.m.


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