The shootout magic ran out for the Sarnia Sting.
The Oshawa Generals defeated the Sting 5-4 in a shootout, Saturday night before 2,841 fans at the RBC Centre.
It marked the first time in three shootouts this season Sarnia has been unable to get the extra point.
Nicklas Jensen and Christian Thomas both scored for Oshawa in the shootout while Sting snipers Nail Yakupov and Kale Kerbashian failed to score against Generals goalie Michael Zador.
The two goals were the first Sting rookie netminder Brandon Hope has allowed in nine shots over three shootouts.
But to still grab a point is something one might term as lucky for the Sting. They played catch-up hockey from start to finish and twice trailed by two goals before scoring two unanswered goals in the third period to force extra time.
“We were fortunate to get a point,” said Sting head coach Dave MacQueen. “We found a way to tie it up and every point is critical. But as good as we’ve been the last month or so we were equally as bad tonight.”
MacQueen continued. “We had way too many passengers tonight. We weren’t moving our feet, we resorted back to some bad habits like turning the puck over at both blue lines, we weren’t skating and we were playing as individuals and cheating away too much.”
Sarnia did find some life in the third period when they needed it the most.
“We got that third fluky goal and most times when something like that happens, you get some life and more energy. Obviously we get the tying goal off the five-on-three power play. Tyler Peters can shoot the puck. They weren’t giving us anything down low so we took what they gave us and tied the game. We were better in the third because we started chipping pucks in and got a forecheck going.”
Oshawa jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period when Jeff Brown scored on a backhander from a sharp angle at 5:32 and Josh Graves knocked in a loose puck at 11:53.
Sarnia got one goal back before the period ended at 18:52 when Peters finished off a nice passing play involving Kerbashian and Yakupov.
The Sting tied the game five and a half minutes into period two. Brandon Alderson outraced two Oshawa defenders and flipped a backhander past the goalie from close range for his sixth goal of the year.
Sarnia was given a golden opportunity midway through the period when they held a two-man advantage for the entire two minutes, but could muster just one shot on goal.
That kill seemed to give Oshawa a shot in the arm and they responded with a pair of goals at 15:11 by Thomas and 19:07 by Graves to head into the third period with a 4-2 lead.
But the Sting would not go away.Yakupov notched his 19th goal of the year at 5:45 deflecting home a Kerbashian shot.
Seven minutes later the RBC Centre held their collective breath when Yakupov went down on his own at the Oshawa blue line. He appeared to be in a lot of pain holding his leg. But after being helped off he returned a few minutes later.
“You never like to see anyone on the ice in pain,” said MacQueen, when asked for his reaction to Yakupov being hurt. “You fear the worst and hope for the best. My first reaction was how serious could this be. But the way he fell on his own, you aren’t sure. I thought he might have hit a rut in the ice and twisted his knee. But he seemed okay.”
Sarnia was given another two-man advantage with just over five minutes to play and this time cashed in as Peters got his second of the night and 11th of the year drilling home a high slapshot from the point. Kerbashian and Yakupov assisted. For Kerbashian it was his third assist of the game.
Overtime solved nothing. Sarnia had just one shot on goal in the five-minute period and was not dangerous.
“We were flat in the first and second periods, but battled back in the third,” said Sting captain Nathan Chiarlitti. “We had our chances. One point is nice, but it would have been nicer to get the extra one. But that point could come in handy down the road.”
Sarnia was just one-for-eight on the power play after going zero-for-eight against Kitchener the night before.
“We stopped moving the puck,” said MacQueen, when asked about the power outage on the power play.
“It seems every time we change the power play, it goes on a hot streak and then goes cold. We changed it again tonight putting Peters back on the back. It all starts with a good breakout of our end and gaining the offensive zone with speed. But teams haven’t given us a lot of time and space lately. It’s something we have to address.”
As far as three out of a possible six points this week, MacQueen said, “we knew it would be a tough week. To get three out of six against three strong teams is pretty darn good. But after we got two points against Owen Sound, you want to get greedy. We arguably had our best game of the season against Kitchener and get no points. I thought we would be jacked up for this game and we were flat for 40 minutes.”
The Sting now get a few days off before this coming weekend when they will play three games in two and a half days.
Sarnia will host the Niagara Ice Dogs on Friday at 7:05 p.m. in the 13th annual Teddy Bear Toss Game. Saturday night Sarnia plays in Erie and Sunday afternoon will be in Brampton.
– Kerbashian was first star with Graves second star and Yakupov third star. The three points moves Kerbashian into the team scoring lead with 40 points on 15 goals and 25 assists. Yakupov is a point back with 19 goals and 20 assists.
– Sarnia dressed only 11 forwards and then lost Garrett Hooey in the second period when he was given a game misconduct for taking off his helmet during a fight.
– Rookie defenceman Ryan Zupancic dressed for the Sting and played against his older brother, Anton Zupancic of Oshawa. The two played against one another for the first time in their hockey careers last month in Oshawa.
– Sarnia’s overall record in the Ontario Hockey League now stands at 11-11-3-1.
Dave Borody is a freelance writer who covers Sting games both home and away and also does features for the Sting Website.