Whalers Wedge Out Windsor, 5-4, in Shootout
WINDSOR – Plymouth goaltender Scott Wedgewood stopped 57-of-61 shots and Robbie Czarnik scored the deciding goal in a shootout as the Whalers defeated Windsor, 5-4 in a shootout, before 6,488 at Windsor Family Credit Union Centre on Thursday evening.
The victory moves Plymouth (now 26-18-1-2, 55 points) to within one point of fourth place Windsor (26-15-2-2, 56 points) in the tight Western Conference race.
Garrett Meurs (8), Tyler Brown (18), Mitchell Heard (14), and Stefan Noesen (23) scored in regulation for the Whalers, while Czarnik and Colin MacDonald contributed two assists each. Tom Kuhnhackl scored twice for Windsor (21-22) and Alexander Khokhlachev (24) and Stephen Johnston (14) added singles for the Spits.
But Wedgewood was the difference. Only his 70-save performance in the playoffs last April in a 3-2 overtime loss to Windsor was better.
“We played well as a team,” Wedgewood said after the game. “We went up a couple of times (leading 2-1, 3-2 and 4-3 at different points in the game) and couldn’t keep the lead, but in the end, we got two points we badly needed. It was a well-rounded effort by everyone. The shootout guys played well and in the overtime, we killed off a 3-on-4.
“We wanted the points and the win and we got it.”
The game featured no more than a one goal differential all evening long. The game was tied at 1-1 after one period and Plymouth led, 4-3, after forty minutes.
Khokhlachev (rebound at 8:50) and Meurs (one-timer from the right circle at 18:39) traded goals in the first period. Brown gave the Whalers their first lead at 2-1 just 10 seconds into the second period when he batted home a rebound after Windsor goaltender Jack Campbell stopped Rickard Rakell’s blast from the slot. Brown scored on a backhand from the right wing side of the Windsor goal.
But Johnston re-tied the game 30 seconds later, scoring in a scramble at the right side of the Plymouth goal.
Mitchell Heard gave Plymouth a 3-2 lead when he followed up his own rebound from the lower rim of the right circle at 14:53, but 15 seconds later, Kuhnhackl intercepted a clearing pass in the Plymouth zone and scored from the left circle, five-hole on Wedgewood.
Windsor enjoyed the first four power plays in the game. Midway through the second period, referees Ryan Hutchison and Scott Oakman started calling things the other way and the Whalers took the lead again at 4-3 on a power play goal by Noesen. He capped good pressure in the Windsor zone, snapping home a big Campbell rebound from the left circle at 17:14.
Kuhnhackl tied the game for Windsor at 4-4, scoring the only goal of the third period at 13:52 when he batted home a rebound from Kenny Ryan’s shot from the right goal line. Wedgewood got a piece of the puck, but it trickled over the line.
Windsor outshot Plymouth, 10-0, in the overtime, but Wedgewood and the Plymouth penalty killers kept the score tied. Wedgewood made a spectacular save in the extra session on Ryan Ellis’ blast from the high slot and then Ellis’ return shot on the rebound.
After 65 minutes, Plymouth won the shootout on goals by Meurs (backhand top shelf to start the shootout) and Czarnik (fake and then stuff on the right wing side of the goal to end the shootout). Windsor’s only goal in the shootout came from Ellis, when he out-waited Wedgewood’s poke check and scored from the right wing side of the goal.
Although Wedgewood was spectacular at times, he was asked if anything in the game stood out.
“Nothing really stands out,” he said. “But it’s nice becuase if you’re going to see that many shots, it keeps you going. Sometimes it’s hard when you get only 18 shots a game. You can get into a groove when you see a lot of shots. You stay sharp and ready and don’t worry when they come at you.”
Plymouth penalty killers played well in the game, killing off all eight Windsor power plays. Plymouth went 1-for-4 on their own power play – all after the 12 minute mark of the second period.
The Whalers return home Friday night to host Niagara at 7:05pm (6:45pm, 88.1FM WSDP) and then hosts Oshawa on Saturday at 7:05pm. Tickets are available by calling the Compuware Arena box office at (734) 453-8400.