Andrew Rankin - Metro Halifax
Jonathan Drouin is back in good health and doing what he does best.
The Halifax Mooseheads star sniper netted the game winner in overtime as the Herd beat the Charlottetown Islanders 3-2 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action before 3,718 fans at the Eastlink Centre on Tuesday night.
Drouin, who missed the team’s 4-0 road win over the Saint John Sea Dogs on Saturday night due to illness, scored 49 seconds into overtime as the red-hot Mooseheads extended their winning streak to 11 games.
“One (defenceman) lost his stick and he took advantage of it. He beat the goalie high-blocker,” head coach Dominique Ducharme said of Drouin’s winning goal. “It was an important play, it won us the game.”
In what was a potential first-round playoff preview, the teams exchanged goals in the first and second periods, and after a scoreless third, which saw Halifax outshoot Charlottetown 17-3, Drouin sent the visitors home happy with his 26th goal of the season.
Drouin also had an assist to finish with two points.
Andrew Ryan and Timo Meier had the other Halifax goals, while Nikolas Ehlers finished with two assists to give him 100 points on the season.
Zach Fucale stopped 19 shots for the win.
“It’s more about the way we play,” said Ducharme of the team’s current hot streak. “Yes, we’ve won the last 11, but we’re going to be starting the playoffs in about a week. I think we’re improving and playing better and better.”
Spencer Cobbold and Troy Vance had the goals for Charlottetown, who with the single point, move into a tie with the Bathurst Titan for 14th place in the 18-team league.
The top-16 teams make the post-season, and Charlottetown needs one more win in its final two games to clinch a playoff berth.
Halifax now has 93 points, just two behind the league-leading Baie-Comeau Drakkar. Both teams have two games remaining in the battle for the No. 1 playoff seed and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.
“We can only control what we can do,” Ducharme said of where they finish in the standings. “We only have two games left and we want to take care of that.”
Halifax closes out its regular season at home Friday to Saint John and Saturday against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.