The low glass in Erie giveth, the low glass taketh away.
The Otters' Mason Marchment had a puck bounce during his clearing attempt, which caused the disc to go into the stands for a delay-of-game penalty in overtime. That put the Oshawa Generals on a power play, where Cole Cassels scored the decider for the 6-5 win and 3-1 series lead. Cassels' faceoff win against fellow Vancouver Canucks prospect Kyle Pettit faciliated a game-tying goal with fewer than one second left in the second period.
The Generals shook off a four-point night from Connor McDavid are headed home to General Motors Centre, where they held the top NHL draft prospect to one assist in the first two games.
"The character in our room is tremendous," Cassels, who has eight points in the past four games, said. "From the top guys to the supporting guys, everyone wants to win here. We showed it tonight."
Cue the narratives that the Generals must have had a point to prove after the dominance of McDavid was the main pre-series storyline.
"Everyone knows he's the next best thing coming," Cassels said. "When he's out there you got to be careful and we have been, but tonight he got loose. Going back home, having the last change, we should be able to match up against him — hopefully."
The Generals need one win for the franchise's first title in 18 years and first OHL championship by an Eastern Conference team in nine. The Barrie Colts also had a 3-1 lead over London two springs ago. On with the post-game questions:
Oshawa 6 Erie 5 (in overtime; Generals lead 3-1, host Game 5 on Friday) — How close did McDavid come to getting his Ovechkin on following the crushing loss? The elephant in the media room was the distinct possibility The Chosen One might have played his final home game of three matchless seasons with the Otters, but there isn't time for sentiment.
"Obviously it's upsetting but we're not out totally," said McDavid, whose 49 points in 19 games leave him two shy of the OHL single-playoff record shared by Jason Dawe (1993 Peterborough Petes) and Justin Papineau (1999 Belleville Bulls). "Everyone believes in this group. We're going to keep battling. We realize it's not the position we want to be in, but many teams have done it and we're going to do it.
"It's not my last game in Erie," the 18-year-old added. "But the fans were great again tonight and they've always been the best fans in the league, here in Erie. I look forward to coming back to them on Sunday [for Game 6, if necessary]."
Who or what was the Generals' bridge over troubled water? The best defensive team in the league seldom squandered a two-goal lead all season, but had it happen twice. Erie getting power-play goals 33 seconds apart in the first to level at 2-2, then struck for three even-strength salvos from Jake Marchment, Darren Raddysh and McDavid in fewer than 5½ minutes to go ahead 5-4 in the second. At that point, Oshawa was able to slow the tempo down and hold Erie off the board for the rest of the night. That was in keeping with its trend of winning third periods (9-2 aggregate in the series).
"A guy like Dakota Mermis, or someone like Josh Brown, they can slow it down," Generals coach D.J. Smith said of his overage defencemen. "They calmed it down. It was down to a one-shot game. We were able to get out of that [third] period without allowing one."
Brown also tied the game with 0.6 seconds left in the second. Cassels won a faceoff to the right of the net back to Stephen Desrochers for a point shot. The rebound ricocheted to Brown, whom Dylan Strome was unable to tie up as the Generals captain scored.
"Kyle Pettit was out for that one," Otters coach Kris Knoblauch said. "He's usually so good, he just unfortunately lost out."
What else might have factored into Oshawa being able to contain Erie across the final 30 minutes and 45 seconds? Let's just say Knoblauch did his best to be diplomatic about the fact that the Otters, after going 2-for-3 on the power play in the opening stanza, never got to be a man up again. Oshawa received one PP in the second, third and OT.
"I think the biggest difference in the game was power plays," Knoblauch said. "Ours was good, theirs was also. The winning goal came on a power play. I truly believed we deserved a better fate and there's a lot left in the series, but power plays, unfortunately, we couldn't get one after the 12-minute mark of the first period. Even that one we did get should have been a four-minute and we only get two minutes. We would have appreciated a little more power-play time.
"I think it was frustrating with not getting our calls. We want the standard to be the same. The first goal that Oshawa got in the first game with a hit from behind on [defenceman Kurtis] MacDermid. The goal that they got in the second period, prior to that [Travis] Dermott got hit much harder than the one where MacDermid did. That's fine if they didn't want to call that, but let's see some consistency in the calls. We miss a pass [which went for icing], they get a faceoff and score. Instead of, we're going into the third period with a one-goal lead instead, we're tied up."
Even the Otters' last power play raised some ire. Alex DeBrincat was cut by a high stick from Generals defenceman Chris Carlisle, but was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after dropping to the ice. The Otters' first two goals came within the following minute of play — and a delay to fix a dislodged pane of plexiglass gave Erie's first power play a free timeout — but an even longer man advantage might have enabled Erie to score three, maybe four goals.
"I've never seen a player get cut and get called for an embellishment," Knoblauch said. "I didn't get an explanation. Not one that would make sense here."
What chance does Oshawa have to end the series on Friday? This could easily be even, but Oshawa will have triple match point going into a game with a sure to be sellout crowd and the ability to get its preferred matchups against McDavid (who has seven points on Erie's 11 goals).
"For me to be able to get Cole, and [left wing Bradley] Latour and [right wing Hunter] Smith out there against the McDavid line with Brown and Mermis on defence, every shift, is huge," D.J. Smith said. "As much as our other guys are battling they're key defensive players for us and have been for three years. You saw tonight how good McDavid is. You give him an inch and he puts it away. We have to try to make sure we can keep him off the board, which is hard to do."
If it ends on Friday, who is first choice for playoff MVP? If it was just for this series, it would be Cole Cassels, who has 10 goals and 27 points across 20 games. The centre has been a two-way force.
However, it is for the entire post-season and the 19-year-old Ohioan did have just three points in six-game semifinal win against North Bay. One could imagine there being a 'McDavid's won everything already' sentiment on Friday, but at the same time, how can media voters ignore a generational season?
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.