Key goals come late in second period as Portland takes 2-0 series lead over Everett
The Portland Winterhawks will roll into Everett this week - on a roll.
The Hawks beat the Everett Silvertips 7-2 Sunday night at the Rose Garden to take a 2-0 lead after two home games in the best-of-seven, first-round series.
Games 3 and 4 of the Western Hockey League playoff opener are Wednesday and Thursday, both at 7 p.m., in the Comcast Arena.
Portland will be hoping to maintain its dominance against a Silvertips team that played the Hawks to numerous close encounters during the regular season but has yet to lead in the postseason.
"It's going to be a tough battle up there in their barn. They've got good fans," said Winterhawk defenseman Derrick Pouliot, who scored in the third period Sunday before the RG crowd of 6,119.
Everett has played Portland tough for long stretches of the first two games. But the Winterhawks have made the Silvertips pay for mistakes, and Portland has produced early and timely later goals to seize and keep control of the series.
On Sunday, for example, Everett snapped a scoreless streak of 235 minutes, 4 seconds with a goal at 12:20 of the second frame. That cut Portland's lead to 2-1.
But the Hawks retalliated on Nino Niederreiter's diving goal 3:24 later, and then defenseman Troy Rutkowski slapped in a shot from the point on the power-play late in the second period, after a bad-for-Everett cross-checking penalty. Suddenly, it was 4-1 for Portland.
"Those back-to-back goals were really key," Hawk coach Mike Johnston said.
Niederreiter and Cunningham each finished with two goals.
Niederreiter opened the scoring 38 seconds into the game, and the Winterhawks led 2-0 after the first period, with former Vancouver Giant Cunningham scoring at 8:34.
"It was a huge win for us," said Niederreiter, whose team had taken the opener 4-0.
Portland goaltender Mac Carruth made 37 saves in winning for the second time in two nights. He had made 32 stops in Game 1.
Portland went 2 for 4 with the man advantage.
"The power-play was good tonight," Rutkowski says. "It was good to see."
The Silvertips were 1 of 7 on the power-play, and Johnston admittedly had some mid-game concerns.
"I wondered after we took several penalties in a row in the second period," he said.
But the threats came and went, and then Portland regained the momentum, with the penalties even in the third period.
"If you are drawing some penalties, it's usually a sign that you're working hard and paying the price to be in the game," Johnston said.
Johnston said the Winterhawks had met for five minutes before Game 2 to go over the adjustments they planned to make from the opener.
"We're always going to make adjustments," he said.
Portland led 3-0 after the first period in Game 1, and the Silvertips didn't cave in again Sunday despite falling behind by two goals early.
"I thought Everett played a really good game," Johnston said. "They were strong in a couple of areas. They were physical, they were really coming after us, and they showed good speed on the rush. The score was probably not indicative of the way the game was."