Knights' special teams falter

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

BRAMPTON -- Short-handed goals are demoralizers.

The London Knights should know. They lead the OHL in scoring them and inflict that sinking feeling a lot.

So imagine the joy the club felt when Justin Taylor popped the team's 16th shortie and his 30th goal of the season last night in Brampton.

Then double it and that's what the Battalion felt in torching London for two short-handed goals on the same Knights power play to wrap up a 5-1 win before a franchise-record crowd of 4,842 at a sold-out Powerade Centre.

For the Knights, elation to deflation happened that quick.

Three-game win streak? Gone. Momentum? Gone. Good feeling from a 5-1 win in Guelph on Monday? Gone.

Next up: the Windsor Spitfires, tonight.

"Sometimes, you need a game like that every now and then to remember who you are," said Knights forward Nazem Kadri, a vital cog in a normally potent power play that finished 0-for-6 and surrendered the two shorties.

"We're a skilled team. Things just didn't go our way. A bounce here or there and it might've been different. We'll rebound from this. We've got a big game coming up now and we'll see how we play."

In their first game back with Scott Aarssen wearing the C, it didn't go well. John Tavares, who was 3-0 as the Knights fill-in captain, went pointless.

The Knights went offside a ton. They turned over the puck in vulnerable positions. They rarely tested one of the OHL's top netminders -- Thomas McCollum -- with just 10 shots through the first two periods.

Then, the absolute rock bottom -- allowing short-handed goals to Jason Dale and New York Rangers prospect Evgeny Grachev while Alexander Eriksson served two minutes for nailing Taylor with a hit from behind.

"I can't remember the last time I saw three short-handed goals in one game," Brampton GM and head coach Stan Butler said. "It's always nice when you can play a team the calibre of a London. We played well. After we played in London, I was talking to (Knights GM) Mark Hunter and he told me, 'Stan, your defence is better than people think it is.'"

A lot of people saw it. The crowd topped the previous Troops best of 4,835 when the Memorial Cup-winning Knights rolled into town four years ago.

London's latest effort wasn't bringing back memories of those golden days.

"If you don't compete, you're going to lose to the best hockey team in the world and you're going to lose to the worst hockey team in the world," London assistant coach Pat Curcio said. "You get down like we did and guys try to do too much. The irony is when you try to do too much, you end up doing very little."

Kadri thought he was given a slew-foot on the play that led to world junior hero Cody Hodgson's breakaway goal in the second that stood up as the game winner.

"You're getting a three-on-two going and then all of a sudden, you're tripped and they're going the other way," Kadri said. "It's a game of inches. One break for us, maybe we take the lead and it's a different game."

Hodgson, a Canucks first-rounder who performed in front of Vancouver director of player development and former Knights assistant Dave Gagner, would know. He nearly forced overtime back at the John Labatt Centre with a shot that just missed beating the final buzzer.

But this time, he and his club didn't leave anything to chance.

The Knights, though, still have some head-scratching questions. Kadri and his crew thought Brampton's third goal by Matt Kang was off-side.

"Everyone stopped," Curcio said. "We'll have to look at it but that was a big goal because it turned a 2-1 game into a 3-1 game."

London goalie Trevor Cann had a standout game against Guelph this week. But he also needs to inspire his mates against the heavyweights like Brampton and Windsor, too.


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