Rangers turn the tables

RYAN PYETTE, The London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:12 PM ET

KITCHENER -- Nazem Kadri scored on a power-play slapper and lifted a gloved hand to his ear, waiting for the jeers.

Oh, they came all right. Every time he touched the puck.

Unfortunately for Kadri, those Kitchener fans who used to love him spent most of their time cheering their Rangers' 5-2 series-tying win over his London Knights before 6,514 at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium.

They roared every time Kadri was slammed into the boards or turned over a puck or failed to find a way to help his team dig out of a rare playoff hole against suddenly magnificent goalie Brandon Maxwell.

"They (the Rangers) aren't doing anything I didn't expect," the Toronto Maple Leafs first-rounder said. "We had eight goals on them in the first game and this time, it didn't work out for us. But that's why it's a seven-game series. You fix things.

"And they (the fans) can boo. It's nothing new."

Kitchener captain Dan Kelly was in his face most of the game. It looked at times like he was laughing at his former-teammate-turned-rival.

"Yeah, well, I don't know what he was doing out there," Kadri said.

This was something new for the Knights.

For the first time in seven playoff games, they didn't score first.

Kitchener's Gabriel Landeskog broke through a first-period shorthanded effort that squeaked through Michael Hutchinson's legs. The hard-working Swede went on to record a hat trick.

But the difference was Maxwell.

Beleaguered after London hung an eight-spot on him Thursday night, he vowed to be better and countered with 39 saves.

"It was a wakeup call, if anything," he said. "One win against the London Knights doesn't mean anything. You don't rest until you have four.

"I give a lot of credit to those guys (the Knights). Dale Hunter's team, they come after you all game, every game."

He didn't see Kadri play to the crowd after his goal.

"He can do whatever he wants out there," Maxwell said. "He's a great player. I don't care."

The Knights are concerned about a couple of things.

They cycled the puck fairly well but made some bad decisions with it deep that cost them goals to the Rangers."

"They're good in the transition," Kadri said. "We know that."

The Knights, London assistant coach Jacques Beaulieu suggested, had a little too much air in their egos after putting eight past Maxwell.

They came in with 22 goals in three games. This time? Just the two.

"Maybe we thought we were a little high on ourselves after the first game," Beaulieu said, "but this should bring us down to earth. We looked a little bit on our heels. We'll cut the tape and watch some video. The rewind and pause button don't lie.

"Maxwell was very good. He gives up eight and wasn't very good, but came back and showed some character."

Now, it's the Knights' turn.

"We had our chances," London captain Justin Taylor said.

Jared Knight whipped a puck that hit Maxwell's glove, then trickled just past the goal post. That goes in and it's a different game.

"The bounces went the Kitchener Rangers' way," Taylor said. "We've never had a three-goal deficit before (in these playoffs). That was something new. We're going to have to keep battling.

"No one said it was going to be easy. Every team plays better in their own building. We've been good here in Kitchener this year. We'll look at what happened and be ready."

They don't have to win at the Aud to move on.

But if they don't, they know they're in for a long haul.

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Game glance

Rangers 5, Knights 2

Series: OHL Western Conference semifinal tied 1-1

Kitchener goals: Gabriel Landeskog (3), Jeremy Morin, Jeff Skinner

London goals: Nazem Kadri, Daniel Erlich

Game 3: Monday, 7 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre

E-mail ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca or follow Ryanpyette on Twitter.


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