London, Ontario – The Otters took a commanding 3-0 series lead Sunday night with a 4-1 victory on the road in London. Goaltender Devin Williams made 27 saves and Connor McDavid notched three assists in the Erie win.
An early power play for the Otters gave the visiting team a boost four minutes into the game. Dylan Strome nearly slipped the puck behind Michael Giugovaz, but it was Travis Dermott on the point who fired a shot past the London netminder for the 1-0 Erie lead. At the other end of the ice, Williams turned away multiple shots to keep the Knights off the board.
Returning to the ice after a slash to the wrist, Alex DeBrincat almost added another Otters goal on a wraparound chance, with Nick Baptiste with another not long after, but both were denied. London was buzzing around the net with several good chances in close on the net, but Williams denied them all to close the first.
The second period was all about the goaltenders. Giugovaz started the saves early on McDavid. The puck trickled in front of the London net, McDavid picked it up and went to the net with a wraparound, but the London netminder was there with the save. With Strome and Owen MacDonald in the box, McDavid skated in on a clean breakaway, but Giugovaz came up with a monstrous save, robbing the Erie captain. DeBrincat was then stopped in the London zone on the power play.
Shorthanded, Max Domi skated in against Dermott who broke up the play to prevent a London goal. Kyle Maksimovich put a shot wide and got the puck back, but Giugovaz made a huge save on the rookie before stopping Nick Betz. At the other end, Williams ended the second period in the same fashion he closed the first – a flurry of Knights activity was turned away before the horn sounded.
Williams started the final period where he left off, stopping the Knights right from the face off. Chances were exchanged between DeBrincat and Drake Rymsha before the Otters carried the puck into the London zone. McDavid chased the puck behind the net and, without looking, put a backhand pass between his legs to Betz who tipped the puck around the post and into the net for a 2-0 lead.
With the Otters on their first penalty kill of the night, Williams put up a huge effort to continue to stymie the Knights offense. Strome had the puck in front of the Knights net and what looked like would be a sure goal, but was unable to capitalize. But, not long after, Maksimovich carried the puck around the back of the net and passed to a waiting Jake Marchment who buried the puck to put the Otters up by three.
The Otters weren’t finished. Dermott made a big play to keep the puck in the zone and continue an effort by Erie. On the next rush, McDavid found DeBrincat who sent a one-timer behind Giugovaz for a four-goal lead with just over seven minutes to play. Former Otter Joel Wigle broke Williams’s shutout, giving the Knights their lone goal with 6:36 to go. It looked as thought Marchment had added one last goal on the power play with under a minute to go, but after a review the tally was waved off, finishing the 4-1 victory.
Erie outshot the Knights 19-5 in the first period and 41-28 total. Nick Baptiste also had multiple-point night, finishing with two assists. McDavid now leads the playoff scoring race with 21 points in eight games and 12 in this series. He is one point away from tying the Otters record of 13 points in a single series, reached twice by Brad Boyes (2002 against Sarnia) and Phil Varone (2011 against Windsor.) Marchment sits seventh on the list with 11 points in seven games.
The Otters will face London in game four Tuesday night at 7 p.m.
The Iron Workers Local Union No. 3 Ironmen of the Game:
1. Devin Williams – 27 saves
2. Jake Marchment – 1G
3. Victor Mete – 0G, 0A