The London Knights threw everything they had at the Saginaw Spirit net in the third period on Saturday night.
If there had been a kitchen sink on the ice, they likely could have found a way to direct it at Saginaw goalie Ivan Prosvetov.
But Prosvetov likely would have stopped that too. He made 31 saves in the third period alone to help the Saginaw Spirit defeat the Knights 6-3 in front of 5476 fans at the Dow Event Center.
London out-shot the Spirit 58 to 49 overall. Knights captain Evan Bouchard took 12 shots by himself. Bouchard had one assist. Paul Cotter of London had two assists.
The Spirit scored two goals 54 seconds apart to springboard in front in the first period and managed to stay those two steps ahead of the Knights through the first and second periods.
The Spirit took a 4-2 lead into the third and Prosvetov weathered an onslaught that would have turned some goaltenders into Swiss cheese.
The loss by the Knights was just their fourth in regulation time since December 8.
It leaves London five points back of the Ottawa 67’s for first place overall in the Ontario Hockey League.
The Knights will be in Sault Ste. Marie on Sunday afternoon to face the Greyhounds who held on to beat Niagara 7-6 on Saturday night. The Ice Dogs scored four goals in the final ten minutes of the third period but came up one short of sending the game to overtime.
How the goals were scored
The Spirit jammed a puck into the London net at 14:07 for the first goal of the game. It was credited to Damien Giroux.
Less than a minute later, Regan O’Grady came flying in front the left point, picked up a puck on the left side boards of the London zone, cut across the crease and tucked the puck under Jordan Kooy to put Saginaw ahead 2-0.
Kevin Hancock scored his 44th goal of the season on a nice individual effort to cut the lead to 2-1 at 16:51 of the opening period. He carried the puck across the Spirit blue line, avoided a hit along the boards, held onto the puck and then took a couple of strides toward the net and snapped a low shot past Ivan Prosvetov.
With just 10.1 seconds remaining in the first, Brady Gilmour of Saginaw picked off a pass in the London end and got the puck into the slot to Owen Tippett. Tippett kicked the puck to his stick and rifled a shot high and in to give the Spirit a 3-1 advantage through 20 minutes.
London forward Liam Foudy wasted no time cutting into the deficit as the second period started. He batted a backhand into the Saginaw net 49 seconds after the opening faceoff to make it 3-2.
The score stayed that way until the 16:39 mark of period two when Cole Perfetti’s pass to the side of the London goal hit a skate and deflected right to Gilmour for a tap-in and a 4-2 Spirit lead.
After the Knights were denied over and over by Prosvetov on back-to-back power plays, Giroux zoomed down the ice, cut to the net and scored his second of the game at 9:59. The goal came eight seconds after Albert Micnac of Saginaw had stepped out of the penalty box and it stretched the Spirit lead to 5-2.
With the Knights on a five-on-three power play later in the period, London head coach Dale Hunter elected to pull the goalie and the Knights fired pucks from all angles on a six-on-three man advantage until Alec Regula finally slid a rebound under Prosvetov to tighten things to 5-3.
Owen Tippett finished the scoring by making good on a late penalty shot.
The Knights will complete three games in two-and-a-half days in Sault Ste. Marie on Sunday afternoon. The trip is never an easy one. The team arrives early Sunday morning from Saginaw, grabs some sleep and then heads for the rink just before noon. The Greyhounds tend to take advantage of visiting teams on similar trips. They were 7-0-1 on home ice on Sundays last season. This year they have lost just once in regulation in five games. The last time London won in Sault Ste. Marie was March 11, 2016. Mitch Marner, Matthew Tkachuk and Christian Dvorak all had a point in that game.
The Knights will return home on Wednesday, Feb. 13, to face the Guelph Storm at 7:00 at Budweiser Gardens. Tickets are still available for that game.