|Ethan O'Rourke celebrates his first Express goal just a little|
Photo courtesy of Damon James.
It was the 6th meeting between the teams in the first 17 games of the season for the Express. Coquitlam improved to 4-2 in the season series.
Coming off a 4-1 loss in Surrey and one of their more lacklustre performances of the season, the Express were looking for a much better outing back on home ice. And right from the get go the Express showed their mettle that has gotten them to this point of the season.
The line of Massimo Rizzo, Greg Lapointe and Connor Gregga started the game. They were coming of Friday's game where that unit struggled to find any rhythm. In this game they were clicking right from the get go with a good shift in the Langley zone to start the game.
Midway through the period Connor Gregga took a pass from Rizzo and beat Braedon Fleming on the short side with a shot that rang in off the post to open the scoring.
That was followed 45 seconds later by Ethan O'Rourke's first Express goal. He showed good hands in front of the net to bury the rebound of a Noah De La Durantaye shot for a 2-0 Express lead with a delayed penalty to Langley in effect.
After falling behind 2-0 Langley ramped up their physicality and the Express responded to it by weathering their hits and pushing their pace up a level to come out of the period with a two goal lead and outshooting Langley 8-4.
Langley found themselves in penalty trouble in the second period. That included a two man advantage for the Express for one minute, but they struggled to establish good possession in the offensive zone to make the most of the opportunity.
Jake Livingstone late in the period buried a rebound for a powerplay goal to cut the Express lead to 2-1.
It was at this point going forward where Express goaltender Clay Stevenson showed his MVP status with three quality saves to help the Express take their lead to the room after 40 minutes. He would finish with 19 saves for his 10th win of the season.
With as often as these division rivals have seen each other in a short period of time it's no surprise that the tempers at times would get short. That was highlighted by an early 3rd period fight between Brad Ong and Brendan Budy. It was a good trade off for the Express with Langley losing their most skilled forward while down a single goal.
His loss was felt as the opening half of the third period went on with Langley getting three straight powerplays. Without their top scorer it helped the Express kill off all those penalties to hold on to their one goal lead. All told Langley went 1 for 5 on the powerplay.
Late in the final minute of the game the Express finally got their insurance by clearing the puck out of their zone and getting down into Langley's end where Josh Wildauer hustled to the loose puck and slid home his 3rd of the season into the empty net with 4 seconds to play.
The win improved the Express to 8-0 on home ice at the Poirier Sports and Leisure centre.
The Express will hit the road for their next two games Tuesday night in Victoria and the next night in Nanaimo.