Erie Otters captain Connor McDavid, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, was held without a point in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs for the first time on Saturday in a 5-1 loss against the Oshawa Generals in Game 2 of the OHL championship round at General Motors Centre in Oshawa, Ontario.
McDavid, No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft, had scored a point in 16 straight games before being denied on Saturday. McDavid entered the championship series with 19 goals and 42 points in 15 games but has one assist and a minus-4 rating in two games against the Generals.
Oshawa leads the best-of-7 series 2-0. Games 3 and 4 will be held in Erie, Pa., on Monday and Wednesday, respectively. The Otters are 7-1 at home in the playoffs.
"They're a tough team, a hard-nosed team, and they play a physical game," McDavid told the Erie-Times News. "The main thing is not to get frustrated. And whenever you get your chances, make sure you're burying them. You're not going to get a bunch of chances."
Oshawa coach D.J. Smith has used the defense pairing of captain Josh Brown (Florida Panthers) and Dakota Mermis against McDavid's line. Additionally, Oshawa center Cole Cassels (Vancouver Canucks) and linemates Bradley Latour and Hunter Smith (Calgary Flames) have also done an effective job neutralizing the McDavid line.
"We're all to a man committed to playing defense," Smith said after a 4-1 Game 1 victory on Friday. "You're going to struggle if you want to trade (scoring) chances with them. We've been good all year at playing defense, and we've got to turn it up one more notch."
The Generals finished the regular season with the third-best goals-against total (157) in OHL history so their ability in against Erie shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. Still, second-line center Dylan Strome, No. 4 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, has also been held to one assist in two games.
"They play a five-man unit back there. It's tough to play against, McDavid said. "But we'll find a way."
McDavid needs eight points to equal the OHL record of 51 points in a playoff season shared by Jason Dawe (Peterborough Petes, 1993) and Justin Papineau (Belleville Bulls, 1999).