PLYMOUTH, Mich. - Matt Martin's goal late in the third period gave the Sarnia Sting a 5-4 win over the Plymouth Whalers in Saturday evening Ontario Hockey League action at the Compuware Arena.
The victory, coupled with Sault Ste. Marie's overtime win over Saginaw, means Sarnia earned the sixth seed in the OHL Western Conference standings, and will play third-seed Windsor, likely beginning Thursday night in Windsor.
Steven Stamkos paced Sarnia (37-29-2-0) with two goals and two assists, including a helper on Martin's game-winner with 4:57 left in regulation as Martin drove the net and deposited a loose puck past Plymouth's Matt Hackett.
Stamkos, the likely first pick in June's NHL Draft, set the Sarnia franchise record for goals in a season with his 58th at 7:15 of the first, giving the Sting a 3-0 lead.
However, the Whalers chipped away and tied the game 3-3 on Joe Gaynor's bad angle goal midway through the second period.
After overage captain Ryan Wilson put the Sting ahead two minutes later with a power play bomb from the high slot, Patrick Lee responded for Plymouth with 1:47 left in the second with a power play rebound tally, setting the stage for Martin's heroics.
Daniel Lombardi had the other Sarnia goal, while netminder Andrew Perugini earned the win making 43 saves, including 25 in the decisive third stanza.
Plymouth (34-28-2-3) also got goals from Tyler G. Brown, his first career OHL goal, and Kaine Geldart. Backup netminder Hackett, filling in for injured starter Jeremy Smith, turned aside 35 shots.
With the loss the Whalers fall to eighth in the OHL Western Conference but finish the season Sunday afternoon in Saginaw. If Plymouth defeats the Spirit, the Whalers would get the seventh seed and face Sault Ste. Marie. Should Saginaw win, Plymouth would play the CHL's top-ranked Kitchener Rangers in the opening round.