London Knights use special teams to knock off Flint Firebirds

Max McCue scored twice and Easton Cowan assisted on three goals that stretched his point streak to 29 games, as the London Knights defeated the Flint Firebirds 4-3 at the Dort Financial Center in mid-Michigan.

London scored three times on the power play and once short-handed in the game.

It didn’t take long for Cowan to continue his streak. The Maple Leafs prospect set up Kasper Halttunen on a power play at 1:23 of the opening period. Halttunen blasted home his 30th goal of the season as Cowan’s assist gave him points in 29 consecutive games. Knights forward and Winnipeg Jets prospect Jacob Julien also picked up an assist on the play and now has 70 points on the season.

Story continues below advertisement

Michael Simpson played his second game in less than 24 hours as Owen Willmore sat out with a minor upper body injury and stopped Coulson Pitre on a breakaway, and then made 12 other stops in the opening 20 minutes.

London scored two more goals that took exactly 39 seconds of power play time to begin the second period and pushed the Knights lead to 3-0.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

First, Max McCue connected on a set-up by Denver Barkey and Rusland Gazizov, and then Sam O’Reilly had a puck deflect off his body and in for O’Reilly’s third goal in five games.

The Firebirds battled back to within one one goals of their own by Gavin Ewles and then Connor Clattenburg.

McCue put London back in front by a pair as he scored of the game and the Knights 28th short-handed goal of the season which tied London with the 2015-16 Barrie Colts for most short-handed goals by any team in a single season dating back to 1997-98.

The third period raced along until the final two minutes when Flint pulled rookie goalie Jacob Brown and scored with 53.5 seconds remaining to tighten the gap to a goal. Simon Slavicek knocked in a rebound in front to make it 4-3 but the Knights held on from there for the victory.

It was Simpson’s 30th win of the year in goal for London.

Story continues below advertisement

The Knights outshot the Firebirds 37-31.

London was 3-for-5 on the power play and a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.

Saginaw picked up a win in Owen Sound to remain three points behind the Knights for first place overall with a game in hand.

The Spirit will visit the Guelph Storm on March 3.

Shorty brothers

When Denver Barkey and Easton Cowan entered the OHL they were quickly dubbed “the twins” by their London Knights teammates. Both were forwards under six-feet tall who played like buzzsaws and produced points while they were at it.

Now Cowan and Barkey are twinning atop the short-handed goal charts in the OHL. According to CHL stat-master Geoffrey Brandow they are the first players on the same team to score seven or more short-handed goals in a season since Andrew Mangiapane and Kevin Labanc each had eight in 2015-16.

Top OHL point streaks

Knights forward Easton Cowan does not have enough games left on the schedule to think about catching the legendary Doug Gilmour for longest point streak in Ontario Hockey League history because Gilmour went 55 consecutive games with at least a point in the 1982-83 season when Gilmour played for the Cornwall Royals.

Story continues below advertisement

Cowan has now gone 29 games and  keeps ticking toward a couple of other marks that are still possible in 2023-24.

Longest Knights streak: 33 games – Dave Gilmore – 1993-94

Longest streak in past 25 years – 32 games – Brett MacLean – 2007-2008 – Oshawa Generals

Longest streak in past 10 years – 30 games – Jordan Kyrou – 2016-17 – Sarnia Sting

Both Connor McDavid and Alex DeBrincat of the Erie Otters posted 27-game point streaks during the Erie Otters run of four straight 50-win seasons between 2013-2017.

Up next, London will finish three straight games and five of six away from home when the visit the Guelph Storm on Wednesday, March 6.

The Knights have won all four meetings against Guelph this year.

The Storm won for just the second time since Jan. 26 when they came back to defeat the Owen Sound Attack in overtime on March 1.

Coverage will start at 6 p.m., on 980 CFPL, at and on the Radioplayer Canada app.

Sponsored content