Halifax scores four third period goals
If Mason McDonald was demoralized after a pounding at the hands of the Halifax Mooseheads, he certainly didn’t show it.
In fact, the lanky, stone-faced Charlottetown Islanders netminder, who faced a combined 101 shots in two straight losses to the Herd, took a positive approach to Saturday’s 7-1 defeat in front of a spirited full house at the Metro Centre.
“I don’t feel too bad about it,” the Halifax native said of his 42 save performance. “I think I battled and competed pretty hard. Now, I just have to keep battling and stay ready for every shot.”
Like Friday night, the Islanders made a game of it for the first half of the contest, but they ultimately couldn’t stay with the Mooseheads, who eventually overwhelmed their opponent with their superior talent.
The No.2 seeded Mooseheads take a 2-0 series lead in their best-of-seven opening round playoff matchup against the 15th seeded Islanders.
It could have been much worse for the Islanders, if not for McDonald. But the Mooseheads finally broke a 1-1 deadlock with just under four minutes left in the middle frame, when Philippe Gadoury scored his second of the night, banking the puck off Charlottetown defender Guillaume Rioux-Legalt and past a helpless McDonald. Then, Jonathan Drouin would score his second in as many nights 1:42 later, putting the home squad up for good.
From there it was lights out, with the Mooseheads scoring four unanswered goals in the final frame.
“They have a great team; they can roll four lines at any time,” said McDonald. “They have a lot of skill. Their shots have been top-notch.
“But I like the action; my legs are feeling pretty dead right now but I’ll have a good night’s sleep and be ready Tuesday.”
Mooseheads rookie forward Nikolaj Ehlers produced another fine performance, scoring once while adding three helpers.
As expected, it turned out to be a wild, physical affair between the two bitter rivals. Ehlers was right in the thick of it, driving to the corners and battling for position in front of McDonald all night long.
After the game, he emerged from the Mooseheads’ dressing room sporting a welt on his lip.
“I’m going into those dirty areas because I want to win,” said Ehlers. “It’s the playoffs. You don’t want to be a guy who doesn’t want to get hurt. We’re a young team and we all have to get used to playing like this. That’s what I’m trying to do.
“Of course, we can improve in different areas, but I’m happy with the way that we battled, especially in the third period.”
Drouin led the Mooseheads with a pair of goals and a pair of assists, while Darcy Ashley and Andrew Shewfelt scored the other goals for the Herd. Daniel Sprong responded for the Islanders.
The series now shifts to Charlottetown for Games 3 and 4, on Tuesday and Wednesday.
By Andrew Rankin, Metro Halifax