67's bounced in overtime

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

When it comes to their goaltending, the 67's believe they have a pair of No. 1s. But not often enough is the math adding up to two.

Chris Perugini wasn't close to being the first culprit in yesterday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Niagara IceDogs at the Civic Centre, Ottawa's second OT loss in its last three games.

The slight 17-year-old goalie played well early on, keeping the 67's from falling into a hole and ultimately allowing them to take a 3-1 lead.

But with Perugini's heroics all used up, Ottawa surrendered a pair of goals in the final 3:22 and allowed world junior gold medal owner Alex Pietrangelo to get in position for what was either a spectacular or flukey winner.

"The tough part about today is that we won both faceoffs in our end, but it ended up on their stick," coach Brian Kilrea said of Niagara's final two regulation-time goals. "You can't blame the centremen, they were winning the draws, but what we did with the puck was make a mistake."

Kilrea had made a goaltending change in four of the 67's last six games heading into the weekend. Adam Courchaine got the hook three times in that stretch.

Kilrea, who has given Perugini three starts in a row, denied that he was giving him a chance to run with the No. 1 job with the playoffs now nine games away.

"The other guy didn't have any chance to practise," said Kilrea. "He hadn't been sharp, so until he can get some practice in and work on some things, he'll be fine this week.

"I'm not worried about the goaltending. I'm worried about the defence that have been making mistakes with the puck. The goaltending isn't the problem."

Perugini had no chance on the first IceDogs goal. Niagara's second came after 67's defenceman Marc Zanetti had trouble with the puck.

The tying goal came off a mad scramble with 41.3 seconds left in regulation time.

Pietrangelo's game-winner came when the puck popped up in the air and he redirected it during a 1-on-1 rush against Ottawa's Martin Paryzek.

"We played hard all game today but a couple of mistakes cost us," Perugini said. "It happens, right? Couple of tough bounces. That's all it was."

YOUTH MOVEMENT

This past weekend was a reminder that the 67's have a bright future. Already the youngest team in the league after opting to remain two overagers shy of the max at the trade deadline, the 67's added another underager when impressive fourth-round pick Dalton Smith joined the team after his Tier II team was eliminated from the playoffs.

Smith, the son of former NHLer Derrick Smith, had five points in six games during an early-season call-up. His arrival gives Ottawa five players who were 16 years old at the start of this calendar year.

Rookie Tyler Toffoli is expected back from the injury list next weekend when Ottawa is on its final multi-game road trip of the season.

Toffoli has been the team's best first-year player, scoring 36 points in 45 games.

Ryan Martindale, who is sixth in team scoring, is recovering from mono and should be back in the lineup before the end of the regular season.

Corey Cowick broke a 1-1 tie late in the second when he hopped on the ice to replace Smith on a line change during a hard-working shift by the newly formed line, which also includes Stephen Blunden and Jon Carnevale. It was Cowick's team-high 32nd goal.

Cody Lindsay made it 3-1 at the 20-second mark of the third.

The 67's top-ranked power play struck early as Thomas Kiriakou notched his 25th to open the scoring.

Perugini made 11 saves in the first period, none better than one near the midway mark, when he dove back to stop a Patrick Lee shot headed for the open net.

Niagara tied it in the second when Kiriakou swung at and missed a bouncing puck that quickly went from Mathew Sisca to Chris DeSousa and behind Perugini, who was caught at the top of his crease.


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