Knights still find ways to win

RYAN PYETTE

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

Dale Hunter is sticking by his top guns.

He believes his London Knights don't have a scoring problem.

Plenty of firepower.

An abundance of ammo.

Sure, they've only scored 23 goals in their first eight OHL games. And yes, defenceman Steve Tarasuk is their top point-getter.

They got shut out Thursday in Windsor and only produced five goals in a game once so far this season. But they're finding ways to get it done.

The 2-1 squeaker over Plymouth before 9,071 last night at the John Labatt Centre was London's sixth win in eight offensively challenged games.

"They're getting the chances (on 44 shots)," Hunter said. "It's when you're not getting any chances that you have issues.

"But it's just like against NHL goalies. You have to be (like Detroit's) Tomas Holmstrom and get in front of them so they can't see it. And if you're not putting them in, you have to concentrate more at the defensive end."

Plymouth goalie Matt Hackett, a Londoner, is one of the best goalies in junior hockey.

But no goalie alive could've stopped Nazem Kadri's first-period dangle and Phil McRae, who knows he needs to go to the net more, did so and was rewarded with his first goal in the second.

It gave rookie goalie Michael Houser his third straight win and avenged a 7-2 beating in Plymouth two weeks ago.

It didn't, however, ignite the offence.

"It's still early," Kadri said. "You can blame it on chemistry. The power play will get going. When a penalty kill gives us a different look, we just have to do a better job at adjusting.

"We haven't done that."

Houser has shown early on he doesn't allow much late. He made some big saves down the stretch.

"That's what you want to do," he said. "You don't worry too much about who's in the other end (Hackett), but it's encouraging. The whole team, we watched film from last time, and did a good job against their big guys. We know (Tyler) Seguin (head-to-head with Windsor's Taylor Hall for top NHL prospect) is a good player."

And now, let's take a moment to address the latest Zac Rinaldo penalty controversy. The rambunctious Knight was kicked out with four minutes left for a mouthguard violation.

He was handed a 10-minute misconduct but that, Plymouth head coach Mike Vellucci said, was the wrong call.

"It's a two-minute penalty -- no one knew the rule," Vellucci said of the officials. "We got a memo about it two weeks ago. I don't think they would've called it if they knew it was a two-minute minor."

The crazy thing is Rinaldo had the thing in his mouth.

"He was chewing on it," Vellucci said.

It could've given the Whalers another power play. But neither team did much with the man advantage.

"Our PK was better," Hunter said. "They had four power-play goals last time we played them."

Hunter has seen a lot of things in his hockey life. The Rinaldo infraction, however, was new stuff.

"I've never seen it called like that," Hunter said. "Not when he still had it in his mouth."

And certainly not while the player had the puck.

"It was a battle all game (between Rinaldo and refs Joel Washkurak and Darren Price)," Kadri said. "I don't know, but I don't agree with the call. It looks to me like they were picking on him."

Now, it's hard to pick on the Knights' offence when they're banking wins. But the way Justin Taylor sees it, the Knights only have a couple of games left to prove they can score goals consistently.

"I like to think of it as the 10-game rule," the Knights captain said. "You have 10 games to put it together and then if you don't, you've been given enough time and Mark (GM Mark Hunter) will go out and make the necessary changes."

Or at least get the right bodies on the ice at the same time.

"You can't rely on your power play to score all your goals," Taylor said. "We have to be better five-on-five. I'd say it's fair in my time (on the Knights), you get rewarded with more power-play time if you can score even strength because if you can score five-on-five, then you should be able to score five-on-four."

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Game glance

Knights 2, Whalers 1

London goals: Nazem Kadri, Phil McRae

Plymouth goal: Adam Nanji

Next: The Knights head to Mississauga tomorrow to face the St. Mike's Majors at the Hershey Centre at 2 p.m.


Photos