Colin MacDonald's Late Goal Gives Whalers a 4-3 Win in Windsor
Photo - Plymouth's Alex Aleardi scrums in front of Windsor goaltender John Cullen Thursday night at Windsor Family Credit Union Centre. Photo by Tyler Brownbridge, Windsor Star.
WINDSOR - Plymouth defenseman Colin MacDonald is known for steady, effective play in the Whalers defensive zone. At +26, MacDonald has been an good player for the Whalers this year.
Thursday night at Windsor Family Credit Centre, MacDonald picked an excellent time for his first goal of the season (and third of his career in 174 games), snapping a 3-3 tie at 17:35 of the third period to give the Whalers a 4-3 victory over the Windsor Spitfires before 5,656.
Plymouth improves to 37-15-2-1, good for 77 points. The Whalers remain in first place in the West Division (17 points ahead of second place Sarnia) and second place in the Western Conference race, six points behind London (41-11-0-1, 83 points).
The Whalers continue to dominate the West Division and improves to 18-2-2-1 within the division.
Windsor stays in seventh place in the Western Conference race with a record of 24-27-2-3, good for 53 points.
Stefan Noesen (26), Danny Vanderwiel (6) and Jamie Devane (19) scored the other Plymouth goals and third star Rickard Rakell added two assists for the Whalers. Plymouth goaltender Matt Mahalak emerged as the first star in the game in stopping 38-of-41 shots. Mahalak improved his won-loss record to 18-7-0-0 and is 3-0-0-0 against Windsor this year.
Plymouth penalty killers were good tonight, going 7-for-8 against the Windsor power play.
Jordan Maletta (4), Nick Ebert (4) and Jeff Braitewaite (5) scored for Windsor.
As good as Mahalak was - and he held Plymouth in the game over the first two periods with 33 saves - he also had help late in the game from the goal post. With the Whalers leading, 4-3, Windsor head coach Bob Boughner pulled goaltender John Cullen for the extra attacker and Ebert range a shot off the cross bar through traffic (Mahalak was screened) with 1:27 left.
The game featured no more than a one-goal differential the entire 60 minutes and three fights - J.T. Miller against Stephen Alonge, Jamie Devane vs. Ty Bilcke and Nick Malysa in another bout with Alonge.
Noesen started the scoring at 4:23 of the first period, taking a pass from Rakell and tucking a backhand, five-hole, past Cullen for a shorthanded marker. Windsor replied later in the period on goals by Maletta at 5:21 and Ebert at 12:40 to lead, 2-1, after forty minutes.
Vanderwiel scored his fifth goal in four games at 12:57 of the second period to tie the game at 2-2. Beau Schmitz did a lot of the work on the play, moving the puck into the Windsor zone to the hashmark. Schmitz was dumped on the play, but the puck lay loose outside the blue ice and Vanderwiel beat a Windsor defender to the puck to bat it home.
AUDIO - Listen to the Vanderwiel goal.
The Whalers clicked on the power play at 7:24 of the third period to re-take the lead a 3-2. Miller set up Rakell just outside the blue lice on the left side of the Windsor goal. Rakell didn't get a lot of his stick on the puck, but it squirted to Devane on the right side of the net and Devane made no mistake.
AUDIO - Listen to the Devane goal.
Windsor finally clicked on the power play to tie the game at 3-3 at 9:37. Alexander Khokhlachev's shot was knocked down in the slot, but the puck pinballed to Brathwaite at the left circle he wired it into the net.
That set the stage for MacDonald's goal. Just before, Mahalak made perhaps his best stop of the game with 3:30 left in regulation when he made a glove save of Adam Bateman's shot from the right point through a ton of traffic in front of the Plymouth crease.
AUDIO - Listen to the Colin MacDonald goal.
Windsor continued to pressure, but the Whalers were able to hold on for the victory.
Windsor outshot Plymouth, 41-24.
ADDITIONAL COVERAGE - Jim Parker, Windsor Star.
The Whalers are home the rest of the weekend, hosting Owen Sound on Friday and Guelph on Saturday. Both game start at 7:05pm at Compuware Arena.