Routines stay same as Game 4 awaits

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

WINDSOR -- John Carlson isn't downing any extra vitamins.

He isn't grabbing any more special hours of shut-eye.

But he and Michael Del Zotto are the big horses on the London Knights back end and they'll get their biggest test of the OHL's Western Conference final against Windsor tonight at the John Labatt Centre.

It's a Game 4 that the Knights need to win and it's the second of back-to-backers for guys who are averaging 30-plus minutes of ice time a night, plus three straight overtime outings.

"I'm keeping my same routine and not doing anything different," Carlson said. "Just making sure I get my nap in and eating right."

Usually, defencemen who play half the game cut corners and find ways to rest up a bit while they're out there. Carlson, a Washington first rounder, said he doesn't have to and has continued to play a relentless physical style.

"I think the biggest thing is I trust my partner," Carlson said of New York Rangers first-rounder Del Zotto. "He makes it easier. We're working well together. The whole D has done a good job of working together out there."

It's a good sign for their NHL futures. At that level, Del Zotto has bragging rights because his Rangers are up 2-0 in a first-round NHL Eastern Conference series against Carlson's Capitals.

"I don't know what's going on -- Washington's offence has gone a little cold the past few games," Carlson said, "but you've got to hand it to the Rangers. They've done a good job."

Right now, the duo is doing what they can to dig the Knights out of this 2-1 hole. Both are extremely effective on the rush and the power play.

"They have some highly-skilled defenceman," Windsor head coach Bob Boughner said. "That's a big difference in this series. They (the Knights) can and have made that saucer pass over our sticks so it's been more difficult for us (to force turnovers and create rushes from the neutral zone -- a Spitfires forte)."

For once, the Spitfires managed to hold down London's offence generated by the blue line.

Del Zotto took four minor penalties. Carlson had one assist, bulling his way to the net on the rush to set up Dom DeSando's third-period goal and trigger the Knights' three-tally rally.

Carlson scored three times in the first two games.

"I've been lucky because I've had a few empty nets staring right at me," he said. "I'm just trying to help this team win. That's what it's all about. We're moving the puck well and that's why things have worked. Windsor's obviously a good team. I'm not jumping up (on offence) any more than I did before, just trying to pick the spots."


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