Another one gets away

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

WINDSOR -- This London-Windsor OHL Western Conference final script is getting kind of predictable.

No one can hang onto a two-goal lead.

No one can slam the door after the second intermission.

There are too many dizzying high and agonizing lows to count and someone inevitably ends an overtime hero.

There's more: Scott Timmins always scores Windsor's first goal and the home team, no matter how much it falls behind, finds a way to win.

This time, the Knights left WFCU Centre wearing the same faces they did after Game 1 -- knowing they could've, should've won, but let it slip away in a 5-4 overtime defeat on Eric Wellwood's heroics at the 9:52 mark before 6,538 yesterday in Game 3.

"We were obviously upset about blowing a two-goal lead again," London captain Scott Aarssen said. "Now (tonight) back home is a must win. It's a game we could've had but I don't think you can kick yourself for it. After the third, no one was too down.

"We knew one shot would win it. We liked the way we played in overtime and we liked how we played in Game 1. Both teams are close, it's hard-fought games and so far, the games have been tied at the end of the third.

"We just have to bounce back. That's how this series has been."

It's been about rising from the dead and finding new life.

And if they want, the Knights can blame blue-collar legend Don Cherry.

The Knights surrendered the winner largely because Wellwood -- following Ryan Ellis and Phil Varone on the hero trail -- watches too much Coach's Corner on TV.

The younger brother of current Vancouver Canuck and former Spitfire Kyle Wellwood, denied earlier in overtime by a Trevor Cann glove, wired a shot past the London goalie to give his club the 2-1 lead in a series no one will soon forget.

On the goal, he elected to make one last-gasp rush instead heading off the ice.

"I really just put my head down and shot the puck," the former Tecumseh Chief said. "Don Cherry always says, 'Shoot the puck' and I always listen to him."

"What about me," Windsor head coach Bob Boughner asked in faux annoyance.

Yes, Wellwood listens to the Boogie Man too.

Of course, Grapes didn't have anything to do with the craziness that ensued when Windsor tried to nurse a 2-1 third-period lead.

The Knights, who finished one-for-eight on the power play, started the third with a two-man advantage but failed to score.

That usually gives the penalty-killing team a lift. Instead, London scored twice in 29 seconds to take the lead and Justin Taylor added what looked like the coffin nail with 7:19 to go.

Nope. Two-goal leads are death knells these days.

"You try to play defensive," London head coach Dale Hunter shrugged. "It's exciting hockey. The fans are being treated to two good teams out there. There's a lot of skill."

There's one thing going on that will temper Windsor's celebrations. John Tavares is starting to heat up. He followed a two-goal performance on Friday with a goal and three points yesterday.

He had a chance to win it in overtime after Windsor goalie Andrew Engelage got caught playing the puck but the keeper threw out a big pad to deny the OHL's leading scorer.

"You don't want to see him with the puck there," Boughner said, "but (Engelage) came back and made a big save."

This trip to Windsor, the Knights exacted their pound of flesh. Dominic DeSando, who kick-started London's three-goal rally, nailed Spifire Andrei Loktionov on an open-ice hit and the Russian needed to be helped off the ice. Boughner doesn't know the prognosis or if he'll play tonight.

"I saw him with his head down and all I was trying to do was separate his body from the puck," DeSando said. "I wasn't trying to hurt him."

Since the game was on national TV, the Spits expect the league to review the play.

"To lose a player like Loktionov and it was DeSando who did it, so if there's a suspension, that's not much of a tradeoff," Boughner said.

The Knights know they had Windsor on the ropes. This whole series has been a roller-coaster ride of momentum.

"It hasn't been too bad," DeSando said. "The first game, you're a little bit excited but the past two games, we're just working hard and trying to win."

GAME GLANCE

Spitfires 5, Knights 4 (OT)

Series: Windsor leads best-of-seven OHL Western Conference final 2-1

Spitfires goals: Scott Timmins, Conor O'Donnell, Adam Henrique, Ben Shutron and Eric Wellwood with the winner 9:52 into overtime

Knights goals: John Tavares, Dominic DeSando, Phil Varone, Justin Taylor

Next: Game 4 is tonight at 7:05 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre


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