The Charlottetown Islanders have the split they were hoping for in their Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoff series with the Rimouski Oceanic.
Defenceman Alexis Vanier scored the winner with a wrist shot from the faceoff circle on a power play 12:13 into overtime Saturday as the Islanders won Game 2 of the best-of-seven series 5-4 in Rimouski, Que.
"Playoff hockey is all about a lot of drama and a lot of twists and turns and this game had a little bit of everything,” Islanders head coach Jim Hulton said. “Fortunately, we had enough resolve to pull it out.”
The Islanders have used five forwards on its top power-play unit late in the season. Hulton said they decided to flip Vanier, who was on the second unit, and Filip Chlapik.
“This guy is a power-play whiz for us,” Hulton said of Vanier.
“We wanted to get him some more looks and we also wanted a little more security with at least one defenceman on each unit and that paid dividends tonight.”
He also creditted assistant coach Luke Beck for making an adjustment to the setup of the power play in overtime.
Jake Coughler had two goals in regulation while Oliver Cooper and Vanier had singles. Samuel Blais had four assists while Kameron Kielly, Filip Rydstrom, Nicolas Leblond, Bradley Kennedy and Daniel Sprong each had one.
Dylan Montcalm, Summerside native Carson MacKinnon, Jeremie Beaudin and Antoine Dufort-Plante scored regulation markers for the host team. Tyler Boland, Simon Bourque, Matous Belohorsky, Dufort-Plante, Andrew Picco and Samuel Laberge each have an assist.
Hulton shuffled the lines a bit Saturday with Mitchell Balmas skating with Chlapik and Sprong, Cooper, Rydstrom and Kennedy being a grind line and reuniting Kielly, Blais and Coughler.
"They looked like they got their mojo back from what they had 15-20 games ago,” the head coach said of the Kielly-Blais-Coughler unit. "Coughler was fantastic. You could really see his playoff experience shine through today.”
The Islanders led 3-0 12 minutes into the game and held a 3-1 lead after the first period after Rimouski scored on the power play. The game was tied 3-3 heading to the third.
Coughler scored five minutes into the third, but Dufort-Plante tied it after Vanier's stick exploded at the blue-line and led to a breakaway. Islanders goalie Mason McDonald made the initial save, but Dufort-Plante scored on the rebound.
Hulton said it was "poetic justic" Vanier scored the winner.
“It was nice to see Vance get it,” he said. “He’s been really, really good for us and he got two more big ones today.”
McDonald made 36 saves for the win while Louis-Philip Guindon stopped 44 shots in the loss. Hulton said McDonald was even better than he was on Friday night in a battle of goalies playing "outstanding."
“He did his job. He kept us in it when we sagged at times," Hulton said.
Game 3 and 4 will be played in Charlottetown Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, at 7 p.m.
“We didn't get too down last night and we’re not going to get too high tonight,” Hulton said. “It’s now a best three-out-of-five.”
The team is travelling back to Prince Edward Island tonight.