By Carl Chimenti
The Sarnia Sting delighted another record-breaking crowd of 4,762, Wednesday night, at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena, beating the London Knights 6-3 for a second straight evening to deadlock the Western Conference championship series at two wins apiece.
Nolan Burke scored two goals and added one assist to lead the way for Sarnia and the Nashville Predators prospect was named first star of the game.
Marcus Limpar-Lantz scored what proved to be the winning goal in the second period. Burke scored his second goal of the game and the only goal in the third period, short-handed, into an empty net, with a little more than five minutes remaining, to send the series back to London for game 5, Friday night, at the Budweiser Gardens, with puck drop at 7pm.
Anaheim Ducks prospect Sasha Pastujov has been on a heater in this series, as he registered his second straight game with three assists and now has seven points in the series. He was selected as the second star.
Ty Voit (Toronto Maple Leafs) had a goal and an assist, capturing the third star.
The Sting depth and secondary scoring has been a vital part to the playoff success this year and that continued tonight with goals from Easton Wainwright, Brenden Anderson and Marcus Limpar-Lantz.
Ryan Mast (Boston Bruins) had a pair of assists, while Cooper Way, Christian Kyrou (Dallas Stars) and Luca Del Bel Belluz (Columbus Blue Jackets), each had one assist.
What can you say about Sting goaltender Ben Gaudreau (San Jose Sharks) as he continues to impress, turning in another fine effort stopping 23 of 26 shots tonight. It was Ben’s tenth win in the post-season, tying him with Michael Simpson of the Peterborough Petes and Dom DiVincentiis of the North Bay Battalion for most playoff wins.
London’s Denver Barkey had a goal and an assist. George Diaco and Ryan Winterton (Seattle Kraken), who has scored one goal in each of the first four games, tallied for the Knights. Logan Mailloux (Montreal Canadiens) chipped in with two assists.
Sarnia out-shot London 28-26 and was dominant on face-offs 36-24.
Sarnia scored twice on four tries on the power-play while London went one for four with the man-advantage.
The Sarnia Sting controlled play for most of the first period and it resulted in a pair of goals before the mid-way point of the first period. The Knights came on in the final five minutes, scoring two goals to tie the game after the first twenty minutes. For the second game in a row Sarnia scored early, this time at the 3:19 mark, as Anderson finished off a two on one rush, after taking a pass from Pastujov and redirecting the pass past Bowen. It was Anderson third of the post-season. Pastujov and Mast were credited with the helpers. The Sting struck again at 10:05, as Voit scored his third of the playoffs, from in front, after taking a pass from Burke. Burke and Pastujov drew the assists. Diaco got the first one back for London, his fourth of the playoffs, from Ryan Humphrey and Oliver Bonk at 15:48. The Knights tied the
game on the power-play at 17:40, on a goal from Winterton, his eighth of the playoffs, from Mailloux and Denver Barkey. London out-shot Sarnia 12-9 and both teams scored on their only man-advantage opportunity.
It was an action packed second period that saw the Knights take a brief 3-2 lead. Sarnia swarmed back for three straight goals and a 5-3 lead after forty minutes. Barkey with his seventh of the playoffs scored at 10:57 from Mailloux and Easton Cowan to give London a short-lived lead. Sarnia tied the game, less than two minutes later on the power-play as Burke potted his seventh, finishing off a three-way passing play with Pastujov and Del Bel Belluz at 12:37. Limpar-Lantz redirected a pass from Voit, for his fourth of the post-season at 14:39. Voit and Kyrou, who made a nice play to keep the puck from crossing the blue-line, before feeding Voit were awarded the assists. Wainwright made a strong drive to the crease before lifting the puck over Bowen for a 5-3 lead at 18:29, with Mast drawing the only assist. London seemed to score again in the final moments but after a lengthy review and a Knight challenge the goal was disallowed, after it was decided that the puck was forced in following contact with Gaudreau. Sarnia out-shot London 10-6.