Kitchener, Ont. – The Rangers posted an impressive 4-2 victory over the OHL’s first place team and the CHL’s fourth-ranked team in Canada, the Ottawa 67’s Friday. Danny Zhilkin (Winnipeg Jets) recorded a three point (2G, 1A) night, Francesco Pinelli (Los Angeles Kings) had two points (1G, 1A) and Marco Costantini stood tall making 32 saves on 34 shots in front of 6,954 fans at The Aud Friday.
For the first time in six games, the Rangers scored the opening goal of the contest. Just 1:43 into the first period, Danny Zhilkin (Winnipeg Jets) collected the puck in the Rangers zone. Skating end-to-end and then from the left face-off circle to the right, Zhilkin fired a shot across his body over the glove of Collin MacKenzie. Then, just as Kitchener’s second power-play of the period expired, they doubled their lead to earn a 2-0 advantage. Hunter Brzustewicz made a great play at the blueline to keep the puck in the zone. Pinelli and Zhilkin connected on a pass before finding Francesco Arcuri (Dallas Stars) at the right face-off dot who fired the puck into the net past the sprawling 67’s netminder.
Kitchener led 2-0 and shots favoured the Rangers 16-6 after 20 minutes of play.
Kitchener held strong against league’s third-ranked power-play as they killed off six minutes of shorthanded time in the middle frame. No team could find the back of the net until a fortuitous bounce found the stick of Pinelli. A cleared puck bounced over the stick of the 67’s defender at the Ottawa blueline with Pinelli pouncing on the puck and skating in for a breakaway. Pinelli made a fake shot on the forehand and then pulled the puck to his backhand before sliding the puck through the legs of the Ottawa goaltender to earn Kitchener a 3-0 lead with 16 seconds left in the period.
Kitchener led 3-0 and shots favoured the 67’s 24-22 after two periods.
Ottawa made things interesting by scoring a shorthanded goal at 11:49 of the third period to make it a 3-1 game. Kitchener defended well and with just over 2:30 left in the game Ottawa pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. Zhilkin was the benefactor of a whiffed shot attempt by an Ottawa defender and slotted the puck into the empty net to make it a 4-1 game. Ottawa added a second goal to cut Kitchener’s lead in half with Caden Kelly scoring his third of the season, but that was as close as they would get.
The final score at The Aud was 4-2 for the Kitchener Rangers and final shots favoured the 67’s 34-29. Kitchener finished the game 0-for-3 on the power-play and a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill. Zhilkin was awarded the game’s first star with two goals and an assist and Francesco Pinelli was awarded the game’s second star with a goal and an assist. The third star of the game was awarded to a member of the Ottawa 67’s.
Next Up: The Rangers will hit the road for two games this weekend. Saturday, Kitchener is in Sarnia for a 7 p.m. game against the Sting. Then, the Rangers face-off against the Knights in London Sunday at 2 p.m.
Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton / Kitchener Rangers
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