Leipsic's OT winner lifts Portland past Spokane
Brendan Leipsic scored the winning goal on a 2-on-1 break 7:44 into overtime as Portland beat Spokane 3-2 Wednesday at Spokane Arena in the Western Hockey League Western Conference finals.
Leipsic, a 16-year-old rookie, was on a break with Taylor Peters, but Leipsic kept the puck and gave a head-and-shoulder fake and beat goalie James Reid.
"Riley Boychuk made a great (pass) to me, and we got an odd-man rush," Leipsic said, in a postgame radio interview. "I've had a tough time in the playoffs, scoring. It was great to get the win."
Peters had scored a shorthanded goal earlier. And, Portland had tied the score 2-2 with 2:14 left in regulation on Ryan Johansen's goal after a flurry in front of Spokane goalie James Reid.
Game 4 is 7 p.m. Friday at Spokane Arena.
The Winterhawks moved to 6-0 in road playoff games.
"I thought we played well, actually, it was tough in here, tough building," coach Mike Johnston said in postgame radio comments. "They get their matchups in here, and our guys fought through it. Matchups are the big difference, and they get (Jared) Cowen and (Brenden) Kichton every time against Johansen."
Said Peters: "We played exactly how we should have played. They're a very good backchecking team, we ran into that, but in the end, we did the right things and got the W."
Spokane outshot Portland throughout regulation, thanks to nine power-play opportunities to the Hawks' two. But Peters and other penalty killers were up to the challenge, going 9-for-9 on kills. "Our penalty kill came through," Peters said.
"I thought the officials were really weak tonight," Johnston added.
The Chiefs got on the board at 15:07 of the first period on Cowen's blast from the point.
Just as they had done in Game 2, the Hawks responded quickly to the deficit. Peters scored a shorthanded goal 1:06 later.
The Winterhawks had a great shot to go ahead in the second period, with Sven Bartschi awarded a penalty shot. But Reid stoned him.
Midway through the third period, Levko scored on a rebound after another Cowen shot. But Portland persevered to tie it on Johansen's goal, his ninth of the playoffs - he has scored goals in each of the first three games against Spokane.
It's three one-goal games, so far, in the series.
"We know these guys, we've played them so much," Johnston said. "I expect it's going to be a hard-fought series. Both goaltenders (Reid, Portland's Mac Carruth) were sharp tonight."
Carruth made 41 saves, Reid 29.
Meanwhile, the Spokane-Portland series winner will be facing quite a hot team in the WHL finals.
Kootenay beat Medicine 7-2 Wednesday to sweep the Eastern Conference finals. Max Reinhart had five goals and Cody Eakin, a key midseason acquisition, the other two.
The Ice have won 11 consecutive playoff games, since trailing Moose Jaw 2-1 in the first round by virtue of two shutout losses. The Ice won three consecutive games against Moose Jaw, then swept regular-season WHL leader Saskatoon and Medicine Hat.