Make way for the Tom Wilson Show.
Three times, the hulking Plymouth Whalers winger found the back of the net on Sunday.
Three times, Game 2 of the Western Conference final series was tied in large part due to his tenacious efforts.
Three times, the London Knights simply couldn’t contain him.
And then, almost as an encore, Wilson made sure he was on the ice when the game-winning goal was scored.
Halfway through the second overtime period and on the power play, Whaler Rickard Rackell bagged the clincher to stun 9,016 at Budweiser Gardens.
“I didn’t come in here thinking I’d get a hat-trick,” Wilson said following Plymouth’s series-tying 4-3 win. “I was just trying to play hard, play for the guys.”
Wilson, who was kept under wraps in Friday’s Game 1 — failing to record a point and racking up nine penalty minutes — was like fire in a bottle two days later.
The win wasn’t all his doing, though, seeing as the Knights drifted from their usual tidy script. Uncharacteristically, London coughed up three leads, while also failing to capitalize on three power play opportunities in extra time.
“If you don’t score on the power play, that’s a killer in overtime,” Knights goalie Anthony Stolarz said. “If you get an opportunity, you’ve got to bear down and score a goal.”
The Knights ended up going 2-for-10 with the manpower advantage, spoiling a 41-save performance from Stolarz. Alex Nedeljkovic, Plymouth’s 17-year-old American netminder, turned aside 61 in a victory that has tide-turning potential.
The Game 2 loss is London’s first defeat on home ice, and marked the first time they’ve lost a game in which they led after two periods, this post-season.
London blueliner Justin Sefton returned to the lineup Sunday, but barely left the bench. The Knights have been using their sixth defenceman sparingly this series.
Matt Rupert “won’t play the next two games,” according to Knights head coach Dale Hunter, who noted the pesky forward hasn’t started skating again since suffering a lower body injury last series.
In a positive light, London has done a great job shutting down Plymouth forward Vincent Trocheck, the probable regular season MVP. He is pointless in two straight games for only the fourth time all year.
The best-of-seven series now shifts to Plymouth, Mi., with games three and four taking place Tuesday and Wednesday at Compuware Arena.
Overtime playoff games involving London
- Game 2, opening round — Chris Tierney scores 9:11 into second OT period to lift London Knights over Saginaw Spirit
- Game 4, second round — Chris Tierney scores 13:24 into first OT period to lift London Knights over Kitchener Rangers
- Game 2, Western final — Rickard Rakell scores 10:16 into second OT period to lift Plymouth Whalers over London Knights