ERIE, Pa. - Plymouth goalie Jeremy Smith made a diving stick save in the final seconds of the third period to maintain the Whalers 5-4 win over the Erie Otters in Ontario Hockey League action Friday.
Smith denied a wide-open shot by Otters forward Nick Palmieri, who earlier in the period scored a power-play goal to cut the Whalers lead to one.
The Otters, a league-worst 1-for-23 entering the evening, twice erased all but one goal of a three-goal deficit with power-play tallies. They also had nearly four minutes of time on the man advantage.
But Smith (46 saves) stood strong, as he withstood the Otters' largest shot total (50) since totalling 51 in Sarnia last March.
Mental let downs early in the final two periods cost the Otters dearly.
Whalers captain Chris Terry scored twice in the opening two minutes of the second for a 3-0 lead. His second goal snapped the Otters' streak of 12 straight successful penalty kills. The Otters' league-best unit was 21-for-22 in the first four games.
Justin Hodgman and Luke Gazdic followed with two goals later in the second. But the Whalers scored twice 20 seconds apart early in the third to regain a two-goal lead. Those goals and Smith's stellar saves were enough to hold off the Otters, which beat the Whalers 6-1 in Plymouth two weeks ago.
Ryan Hayes had two goals for the Whalers. Right-winger Shawn Szydlowski had two assists for the Otters.