ERIE, Pa. - The struggle for fifth place continues in the Western Conference.
Anthony Luciani and Greg McKegg scored twice as the Erie Otters dropped the Ottawa 67's 7-1 in Ontario Hockey League play Saturday night.
Mike Cazzola added a power-play goal and three assists for Erie (31-24-7), while Brett Appio and Shawn Szydlowski also tallied. Zack Torquato and Brady Austin both had two assists.
Shane Prince was the lone scorer for Ottawa (32-23-7).
The win tied the Otters with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for the fifth spot in the OHL's Western Conference. Both teams have 69 points, although the Greyhounds have a game in hand. Sault Ste. Marie had Saturday night off. Erie has six regular-season games left.
The Otters have scored 15 goals in their last two games and 31 in their last five games. They have 235 for the season.
The Otters built an early 1-0 lead on McKegg's first goal at the 8:41 mark of the opening period. But the Otters' attack was simply warming up against the 67's.
The Otters exploded for four goals in the decisive second period, including three straight in a 3:35 span early in the frame. Surprisingly, the fourth line sparked the offensive outburst.
Appio lifted a point-blank shot past 67's goaltender Petr Mrazek 3:30 into the period. Rookies Stephen Genua and Austin assisted on the goal.
Then Szydlowski's individual effort led to an unassisted score 5:51 into the period - his eighth goal in a career-high, 11-game point streak and 19th goal of the season. He slipped the puck past a defender at the Otters' blue line, waited as another one of the 67's slid past him before beating Mrazek with a shot inside the right post.
Luciani's goal followed at the 7:05 mark, with assists from Andrew Yogan and Cazzola.
Ottawa briefly stalled Erie's offensive surge, as Prince scored on the power play to slice Erie's lead to 4-1 with 6:17 left in the period.
But McKegg's rebound of Austin's shot from the left wing on the power play extended the Otters' lead to 5-1 with 4:02 left. The Otters scored all goals on 11 shots.