The Ottawa 67's can see the finish line with only 10 games left in the regular season.
But they're serving notice they're ready to go on a long playoff run.
The 67's didn't exactly dominate the Kitchener Rangers in a 5-4 victory last night at the Civic Centre, but with goals from Thomas Kirakou, Cody Lindsay, Logan Couture, Thomas Nesbitt and Anthony Nigro, the home team got the job done with a strong, workmanlike effort.
Kirakou scored the winner on the power play at 16:58 of the third period when he beat Kitchener goalie Parker Van Buskirk on the stick side. The 67's had been 0-for-5 with the man advantage before that key goal.
"It's something that we needed," said coach and GM Brian Kilrea.
"We had been stymied on the power play and we made a power play and one hit the net. There were times we were shooting over the net. That came at an opportune time.
"You want to finish strong and you want to finish healthy. We played well. We got contributions from everybody.
67's goalie Chris Perugini had to be sharp and made some huge stops with the Rangers pressing in the third, and outshooting Ottawa 39-31 on the night.
Nesbitt had a three-point effort for the 67's, while Lindsay chipped in two points in front of a crowd of 9,304.
But the Rangers refused to back down.
Lindsay gave the 67's a 4-3 lead at 9:20 of the third when he picked up a fortunate bounce off the glass to beat Kitchener goalie Parker Van Buskirk on the glove side. The Rangers' Chris MacKinnon tied it up at 11:12 before Kirakou's winner.
The 67's have booked a playoff spot, but they want to assure themselves of home ice and make sure they're sharp so Kilrea's last run behind the bench is memorable.
While the Rangers were sitting five points out of a playoff spot in the West going into last night's game, they aren't going down without a fight. Winger Jason Akeson, a Cumberland native, scored twice on the power play and Jacob Lalonde tied it 3-3 going into the third.
The goal by Lalonde came moments after Couture had given the 67's a 3-2 lead. Lalonde was trying to slide the puck in front of Van Buskirk when it bounced off defenceman Roberto Bortuzzo for Couture's 27th of the season.
Earlier, Akeson's second of the game at 8:56 with Nesbitt and Nigro in the box tied it 2-2.
A short-handed marker by Nigro, his 27th goal of the season, opened up a 2-0 lead for the 67's at 16:09 of the first. Breaking in on a 2-on-1, Nigro fired a shot by Van Buskirk high on the glove side. But Akeson moved the Rangers within a goal at 17:16 on the power play.
It didn't take long for the 67's open the scoring. Nesbitt had his 21st of the year when he beat Van Buskirk high on the blocker side at 5:07.
The 67's host the Niagara Ice Dogs tomorrow at 2 p.m.