Homecoming blowout

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

KITCHENER -- Nazem Kadri went with the toe drag, his signature move for two seasons in Kitchener.

But he mishandled the puck.

His old buddy -- Rangers defenceman Robert Bortuzzo -- saw it coming. But he lost an edge and fell.

Then fate took over. Nothing on the science exam Kadri took earlier in the day at Lucas could explain what happened next.

Kadri -- Kitchener's old No. 19 who flipped his jersey digits to 91 on being dealt back home to London this summer -- scored his 19th goal as a Knight.

By banking it in off the Rangers' new No. 19 -- Jason Akeson.

"Oh, wow, what a coincidence," Kadri said with a wide grin. "Funny how those things work out. I tried to centre it out in front and that's the way it goes.

"You get bounces."

Who writes this stuff?

The early Kadri shorthanded goal was the only one the Knights would need. They went on to bomb the struggling Rangers 9-0 before a standing-room-only crowd of 6,340.

Kadri scored and picked up four points. But he quickly dished off the spotlight.

He set up the first three of John Tavares' four goals.

Tavares collected six points and recorded his 400th OHL point. He has 13 goals and 19 points in his short tenure with the Knights.

But he was happiest for Kadri. These guys aren't just building chemistry together on the ice.

"You could see he was a little extra excited about this one," Tavares said. "He went all the way to a Memorial Cup final with this team (Kitchener) and it was a big game for him. It was nice for all the guys who were part of the big trade (for goalie Steve Mason)."

"In my second year, I had a hat trick against Belleville in about six or seven minutes," Tavares said. "I knew I was hovering around 400 points (he has 403 now) but I didn't know it was that close.

"I was just happy to fly under the radar a little bit. The thing we're most proud of is that zero up on the scoreboard. It's a lot better than if we won the game 9-4."

Trevor Cann stopped 21 shots for his fourth shutout this season.

Tavares wouldn't say his goal outburst was sparked by Kitchener forward Mike Mascioli throwing punches at him along the boards in the first period. The two have a history and Mascioli was ejected for trying to instigate a fight.

"He just jumped me all of a sudden," Tavares said. "I wasn't sure who it was, I got up and gave him a whack. I had no intention of hurting him. That's part of the game.

"But I want to do well all the time. I'm being counted on to produce here."

The Knights were relentless. They played the same dominant style the OHL champion Rangers did last year with Kadri. "They were basically the same systems," Kadri said. "I felt a little weird in warmups. I came here as a 15-year-old kid."

Now he's 18, playing at home on a line with junior hockey's scoring machine.

"That's probably the best line in Canada now," Bortuzzo said. "We came out guns a-blaring and then they scored. They showed why they're one of the top teams."

Not all was sunny for the Knights. Leigh Salters is paying a hefty price for going after Akim Aliu on Sunday.

The OHL suspended the big London forward five games for attacking the former Knight and trying to goad him into a fight early in Aliu's return to the JLC with his new team -- the Sudbury Wolves.

Salters returns Feb. 7, but will miss a big matchup with Windsor the night before.

"The positive is it's at a time in the schedule where we have a lot of games so he doesn't miss a lot of time (on the calendar)," said GM Mark Hunter. "If it was early in the season, five games could go into three weeks."

GAME GLANCE

Knights 9, Rangers 0

London goals: John Tavares (4), Nazem Kadri, Steve Tarasuk, Phil McRae, Daniel Erlich, Jared Knight

Shutout: Trevor Cann

Next: The Knights head on an Eastern Ontario swing starting in Kingston on Friday.


Photos