Knights' late surge falls short

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:53 PM ET

KITCHENER -- This is exactly what makes the London Knights such head-scratchers.

For 58-and-a-half minutes, they pepper Kitchener goalie Brandon Maxwell.

They buzz the offensive zone.

They badly outshoot the Rangers.

The result?

Two goals but, still, they were down three on The Aud scoreboard.

Enough to send satisfied Rangers fans filing for the parking lot.

"I saw that," former Ranger Steve Tarasuk said.

How shocked do you think the early-exit crew was to turn on their car radios and find out the Knights had scored two shorthanded goals in the final 84 seconds and darn near tied it on a last-gasp faceoff in what ended in a 6-4 London loss before 6,597 last night at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium?

Two goals all game. Then, two more in a late flurry while down a man.

"Naz (Kadri) had a great draw (in the final 13 seconds) and unforunately, it just bounced over my stick -- it happens," said Tarasuk, who pulled London within one with 30 seconds left to heighten the drama.

That's two straight tough hops for Tarasuk, the Knights' top defenceman.

Last night, Jeff Skinner finished it off with an empty netter.

In Brampton last Sunday, Tarasuk knocked a loose puck into his own empty net for a 2-0 loss.

London has fallen in back-to-back games for the first time this season.

"It's the way it goes sometimes," the 20-year-old Tarasuk said. "We don't give up but it shouldn't have to be like that. One of the things we have to stop doing is taking penalties in a row like we have. It kills our momentum."

The sorry second-period sin bin visits swung the pendulum.

In the final six minutes of the middle frame, the Rangers scored three goals.

Skinner buried his first with the man advantage.

Fellow Ranger Tyler Randell got another on a delayed penalty.

Then, top gun Chris MacKinnon, the guy the Knights traded after seven games last season, blasted one past normally sharp Michael Hutchinson on the power play.

The Rangers went three-for-nine up a guy. The Knights scored once in five tries.

They had twice as many shorties in the final 1 1/2 minutes.

"We knew they were going to try to score on their penalty kill," Randell said. "We have to be ready for that."

But how could the Knights be ready for this?

The eventual winner came from Andrew Crescenzi, who batted in his first OHL goal out of the air like he was home run king Barry Bonds.

Earlier, the Rangers escaped a dangerous two-man down situation when a batted puck in their own end bounced off the top edge of the glass and back on the ice instead of into the crowd for an extra delay of game call.

A coin flip. The razor's edge.

That's the difference between first and second place in the OHL Midwest Division right now.

"If we would've played the way we did at the end the whole game, I felt like we would've blown them out," said Knights forward Daniel Erlich. "We lost two points here so we want to come out the rest of the weekend and get the other four.

"We had some bad breaks. But we have to keep going."

Erlich had a chance to stuff home the tying goal in that last half-minute. He couldn't get it past Maxwell's blocker.

The Rangers breathed a collective sigh of relief.

The Knights just shook their heads.

"It's good that even though we beat a very good hockey team, we have guys upset in that dressing room after a win," Kitchener head coach Steve Spott said. "We didn't finish the game the right way. Brandon Maxwell didn't deserve that."

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Game glance

Rangers 6, Knights 4

Kitchener goals: eff Skinner (2), Michael Catenacci, JTyler Randell, Chris MacKinnon, Andrew Crescenzi

London goals: Justin Taylor (2), Jared Knight, Steve Tarasuk

Next: The Knights head to Saginaw tonight, then finish up the three-game road swing in Sault Ste. Marie against the Greyhounds tomorrow at 7 p.m.


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