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  • 18 Dec 2014

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Winterhawks

Portland leads Vancouver 2-0 in their first-round Western Hockey League playoff series, after winning 4-3 and 3-0 on home ice last weekend.

The best-of-seven series continues at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, British Columbia.

• The Winterhawks feature six players — Nic Petan, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Brendan Leipsic, Chase De Leo, Taylor Leier, Derrick Pouliot — who had more regular-season points than Vancouver’s leading scorer (Carter Popoff, 13 goals-51 assists-64 points). Portland had 338 regular-season goals to Vancouver’s 234.

Still, the Giants thought they could penetrate Portland’s defense, says Hawks coach Mike Johnston. But that hasn’t been the case.

The Giants scored three goals in Game 1 of the series, but lost on Bjorkstrand’s late goal, before going scoreless in Game 2.

Vancouver has 31 combined shots; Portland 88.

“I like how we’re playing defensively, which is very important to us,” Johnston says. “To limit them to (31) shots, that’s really, really key. And our goals-against is down.

“Coming into the series, Vancouver was looking at it like we’re an offensive team and we didn’t defend very well and they were going to have a lot of chances. They didn’t.”

Johnston says Portland’s vaunted puck possession and defense and the team’s “breakout” — like a fast-break in basketball — from its own end has been done “cleanly.”

Says Leipsic: “You don’t want to give up many shots in a game. We’re doing the right things, defensively, limiting their rush opportunities with good forecheck and backside pressure. If we can do that, we can keep shots down.”

• The Winterhawks went scoreless on five power plays in Game 1, then were 2 for 9 in Game 2. The Giants unraveled to an extent, discipline-wise; to have any chance of beating Portland, they need to limit the Hawks’ power-play opportunities.

• This all from the FWIW — for what it’s worth — file:

Goalie Brendan Burke notched his first career playoff shutout in Game 2. He also has eight career regular-season shutouts in 99 games.

His father, Sean Burke, the longtime NHL goalie, had 38 shutouts in 820 career regular-season NHL games — and one shutout in 38 NHL playoff games, as a 21-year-old in 1988 with the New Jersey Devils.

Sean Burke also played junior hockey, for the Toronto Marlboros of the Ontario Hockey League in the mid-1980s — and had no regular-season or playoff shutouts, according to hockey-reference.com.

— Jason Vondersmith