Knights proving stingy

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:34 AM ET

The power-play passing is pretty.

Gorgeous, really.

Phil McRae looked like a stick artist setting up the London Knights' first two goals. Empty nets for everyone.

And Daniel Erlich?

The guy who said he was going to shoot more this year made a young Owen Sound defender fall hook, line and sinker for his cheeky fake slapper before gift-wrapping Nazem Kadri's third-period tally to cement a 3-1 win over the Attack before 9,090 last night at the John Labatt Centre.

Sure, the Knights are winning.

That's four of five now to start this OHL season.

But this isn't the way they were supposed to do it. Everyone expected, with flashy forwards and green defence, some scoreboard-exploding shootouts.

The Knights haven't scored more than four in a game yet.

Where is this high-octane offence? Is it a coming attaction?

"It's hard to argue about it when you're winning," said McRae, the future St. Louis Blue who hasn't scored yet but has four assists in four games. "We're moving the puck around on the power play pretty good. We got all three goals that way. But now, we just have to make sure we do the same thing five-on-five.

"If we take care of our defensive zone first, we'll be alright."

London head coach Dale Hunter likes some run-and-gun to his team game. He's seeing enough chances each game.

"It's there -- they just have to finish better," he said. "There was a breakaway (Kadri was denied by Attack goalie Scott Stajcer). They're around the net. You have to give some credit to Owen Sound. They play a pretty sound defensive game and they work hard. They try to limit you."

Right now, Hunter is trying to put a stop the flu.

Phil Varone has it and that's why he checked out of the game early.

"It's going around," Hunter said. "Phil tried but he couldn't breathe. I don't know (if he'll play tonight in Erie). It's (the flu) passed through drinking from the water bottles. He (Varone) had his own special one.

"You just try to keep him away from the other guys."

The Knights certainly didn't steer clear of Attack star Joey Hishon, a potential team captain after longtime leader David Kolamatis inked a tryout contract with Los Angeles' American Hockey League affiliate in Manchester.

If the Knights offence is supposed to be running on premium, Owen Sound isn't even getting regular from their pumps yet.

"Our guys have to realize that if teams are putting two guys on Joey, then they have to get open," coach Mark Reeds said, "and Joey, in that kind of situation, has to do a better job of dispersing the puck. There's going to be someone open."

The Knights have less than a week to work out their offensive kinks. They won't be ducking what could, less than one month in, be the toughest string of regular season games they'll face.

After Erie tonight, they'll play in Windsor, at home to Plymouth, in Mississauga and home to Barrie.

That's four of the OHL's best.

That's where they'll find out if they miss Michael Del Zotto, who has started with the New York Rangers.

"Our goaltending has been good," Hunter said.

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GAME GLANCE

Knights 3, Attack 1

London goals: Justin Taylor, Daniel Erlich, Nazem Kadri

Owen Sound goals: Marcus Carroll

Next: The Knights head to Erie to face an Otters team tonight they beat in a five-game first-round playoff battle last spring.

Erie forward Ryan O'Reilly remains with the Colorado Avalanche.


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