With the 2-3-2 format in place the Gatineau Olympiques will play their final home game of the first round tonight at the Robert Guertin Centre. The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles will try to ensure its their final game of the season, at all, as the Eagles lead the series by a count of 3-1 and can wrap it up tonight with a win.
Gatineau stayed alive on on Wednesday night with a 4-3 victory, in an evenly played game in which both teams fired 31 shots on goal and the Screaming Eagles saw two goals disallowed. Thursday was a rest day for the two sides following the Olympiques first win of the series. Game four saw Olympiques coach Eric Landry juggle his lineup, as goaltender Tristan Bérubé started his first game of the playoffs, defenseman Alex Breton returned from injury and Zach MacEwan was placed on a line with Russians Vitali Abramov and Yakov Trenin.
Game four saw the Olympiques notch their first power play goal of the series, but the Screaming Eagles have still been the superior team on the man advantage. Cape Breton has drawn almost twice as many penalties as Gatineau (the Eagles have had 27 power plays to Gatineau’s 14) and the Eagles power play has clicked at 22.2% in comparison to the 7.1% the Olympiques have produced.
There have been some statistical oddities to this point in the series, perhaps the oddest being that Cape Breton has held a lead for less than 45 minutes of game time despite having won three games. In a series featuring two teams were more proficient in goals for than goals against, six of the twelve regulation periods have been scoreless. Game three was the only one of the first four contests to see any goals at all in the third period.
Cape Breton’s Drake Batherson has led the way in both goals (four) and points (six) while his linemate Giovanni Fiore and his opponent MacEwan have both scored three goals. No other Gatineau player has scored twice, but the leading scorer in the QMJHL’s regular season, Vitali Abramov, has notched five points in his last three contests.
This marks the sixth time in team history the Screaming Eagles have held a 3-1 advantage in a post-season series. In three of the five prior instances, they were able to end the series in the fifth game. Cape Breton will luck to buck history tonight as the home team won all five games in this situation.
Tonight’s game five goes at at 8:30 pm (Atlantic time) at the Robert Guertin Centre. You can hear all the action beginning with the pre-game show at 8:00 with Patrick McNeil on 1270 CJCB.