MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – Alexander Nylander scored three goals and added one assist and goaltender Jack Flinn made 31 saves for the shutout as the Mississauga Steelheads blanked the North Bay Battalion 7-0 in Ontario Hockey League action Friday night.
Owen Tippett and Ryan McLeod each scored two goals and Nathan Bastian and Michael McLeod had three assists apiece for Mississauga, which has won its last three games and has a won-lost-extended record of 12-10-2 for 26 points, tied with the Barrie Colts for first place in the Central Division.
Goaltender Jake Kment faced 31 shots for the Battalion, 9-10-2 for 20 points, fourth in the division.
“That was the worst effort by our guys in three years in North Bay, okay?” said a disgusted coach Stan Butler, whose charges were shut out for the second time this season, the first a 5-0 road setback Sept. 27 to the Oshawa Generals.
Nylander opened the scoring at 9:57 of the first period, hammering a Bastian pass over Kment’s glove from the blue line. The goal came four seconds into a power play after the Troops were whistled for too many men on the ice.
Before a crowd announced as 2,412, Mississauga forged a 12-6 edge in shots in a fast-paced period that saw good chances at both ends.
The Battalion’s best opportunity came in the fourth minute when Flinn got his glove on a Cam Dineen shot as the defenceman drove to the net unimpeded on a pass from Mike Baird. Flinn kicked away a Mike Amadio shot off the right wing in the seventh minute and stretched to deny Amadio from the lip of the crease in the 15th.
Kment was solid, thwarting McLeod from the deep slot in the first minute and getting the right pad on Luke Kutkevicius’s drive in the second. Kment made consecutive saves on McLeod in the 14th and turned aside a Thomas Lattavo effort in the 18th.
The Steelheads erupted for three goals in the second period, including two on the power play.
North Bay was two men short when Tippett struck at 5:09, ripping a wrister over the glove of Kment, who appeared to be screened.
Mississauga capitalized again on the power play at 6:07 as several Steelheads jabbed at a loose puck in the crease, with Ryan McLeod succeeding in putting the disc over the goal line.
Nylander made it 4-0 at 13:33 when he charged to the net, with Dineen in tow, and got enough of a Bastian feed to direct the puck home.
The Troops held a 14-9 edge in shots. Flinn came up with stops on Kyle Wood, Jacob Ball, Brett McKenzie, Kyle Potts and Zach Poirier. Penalty killer Amadio fired a Mathew Santos feed just over the crossbar in the seventh minute.
Tippett beat Kment high to the glove side on a breakaway at 2:26 of the third period on a play that started when linesman Jean-Francois Menard got in the puck’s way near the Mississauga blue line, and Nylander connected again, finishing off a two-on-one rush with Michael McLeod at 4:47. Ryan McLeod completed the scoring at 12:40, beating Kment with a snap shot.
Flinn preserved his fourth shutout of the season with solid stops on McKenzie, Ball, Amadio and Dineen, and Daniil Vertiy drilled the puck off the right post in the fourth minute.
The Battalion hosts the Hamilton Bulldogs at 7 p.m. Thursday.
BATTALION BULLETS: Mississauga’s Josh Burnside is serving a 12-game suspension following a third-period head-checking minor in a 2-0 home-ice win Oct. 30 over Hamilton. Burnside delivered a blindside hit on Zach Bratina at the final buzzer of the Steelheads’ 4-2 victory Oct. 25 over the visiting Troops. It was Bratina’s last game before retiring because of concussions … North Bay is 3-5-2 on the road. Mississauga is 7-4-1 at home … The Battalion went 0-for-4 on the power play. The Steelheads were 3-for-6 … Opening line combinations featured Amadio centring left winger Vertiy and right winger Santos, McKenzie centring left winger Baird and Ball on right wing and Poirier pivoting left winger David Sherman and right winger Steve Harland. Potts centred left winger Max Kislinger and right winger Justin Brazeau … The Battalion scratched Jake Ramalho, Brett Hargrave, Brady Lyle and Kyle Moore … Swedish import Nylander leads OHL rookies in goals, assists and points with respective totals of 16, 19 and 35 in 24 games … Bastian has a six-game points streak during which he has scored three goals and added 10 assists for 13 points … On a rare Sunday off, most Battalion players are set to take part in North Bay’s Santa Claus Parade starting at noon on Chippewa Street and continuing to Fisher and Main.