OTTAWA - The Ottawa 67’s dominated the special teams battle, scoring twice while short-handed and adding a trio of power-play markers, cruising to a 6-1 win over the Brampton Battalion in front of a sparse Friday night crowd of 4,819 at the Rona Centre.
Ottawa now has points in 11 of its last 12 games.
“We were fortunate to get a couple of short-handed opportunities and we made good on them. Their penalty kill was eating us up early on, so it was good that we were able to break through and score a couple early,” said coach Chris Byrne. “Our shots were going in, and we were fortunate on a few of them, but we also had some good chances that just missed.”
Thomas Nesbitt, with his first of two on the night, bulged the twine on the first shot of the game, breaking in short-handed with Cody Lindsay after a long outlet pass from Marc Zanetti sprung the pair on a two-on-one rush.
Nesbitt took Lindsay’s pass in stride and tucked a backhander past a sprawling St. Jacques at 7:05 of the first.
“(Nesbitt) played well, he’s been playing that game for a while now, and he did a good job leading the charge,” said Byrne. “He’s just a hard worker and a good team guy. He’s been a solid player for us for five years now.”
67’s sniper Tyler Toffoli extended the lead five minutes later with his first of a pair, taking sole possession of the OHL’s goal-scoring lead with his 26th and 27th of the season.
Travis Gibbons made it 3-0 with one second left on the clock in the first period for his third of the season.
Toffoli made it 4-0, again while short-handed, with only eight shots directed at the embattled Battalion goaltender to that point.
After Petr Mrazek kicked out a weak bad angle shot on a Brampton power-play, Toffoli picked up the rebound and took off up ice with Prince on a long two-on-one.
Toffoli dished to his linemate and took the return feed, redirecting the puck past St. Jacques.
Mrazek came up big when called upon, as the Battalion actually outshot the 67’s 37-21 on the night.
Mrazek lost his shutout bid at 1:44 of the third when Scott Tanski tucked in a backhander.
Mrazek was named the game’s second star with a 36-save performance. “It was nice getting that (three goal cushion in the first), but I play better when I see a lot of shots, and the guys made it a lot easier for me.”
A pair of power-play goals in the third, one from Nesbitt at 3:58 and another from Dalton Smith at 16:10, put the 67’s in cruise control.
Ottawa hosts the Belleville Bulls on Sunday afternoon.