Winterhawks pull away late
Nothing seemed to be going the Portland Winterhawks way in the second period of Fridays contest against Seattle. They had committed a slew of penalties, lost their goalie and squandered a two-goal lead.
One quick strike from Oliver Bjorkstrand turned it all around.
Bjorkstrand took a pass from Brendan Leipsic and slung it into the net 11 seconds into a power play and 38 seconds before the second intermission. The Winterhawks had their spark, and they rolled from there to a dominating 7-3 win before a Moda-Center crowd of 10,947.
I thought that was a key goal; it gave us another power-play goal in the game, Portland coach Mike Johnston said. We knew power plays were going to be a key part of the game.
Portlands demeanor was visibly peppier to start the third period than it was prior to Bjorkstrands tie-breaking goal. The Winterhawks were the aggressors in the third offensively, when Seattle should have been.
If we were able to play with some discipline in the third period, I thought we would probably come out with a win, Johnston said. I thought we really controlled the play. We had great speed in the outside lanes and challenged their defense wide. And we didnt turn over many pucks.
The Winterhawks used their speed to get into scoring range and fired off shot after shot. One fell 5:35 into the period.
Portlands Mathew Dumba was floating near the back edge of the right face-off circle when Keegan Iverson flipped him a pass from the left corner. Dumba ripped a shot that somehow found a space between the crossbar and the helmet of Seattle goalie Taran Kuzon.
Dumba duplicated the shot eight minutes later. On a pass from Paul Bittner, Dumba whipped a shot from the middle of the ice and again snuck it in between Kuzons mask and the crossbar.
There was a screen on both of them, so I just wanted to get them through and get them high, Dumba said. I just got lucky and they happened to go in.
Sandwiched in the middle of Dumbas two goals was a score by Leipsic. Leipsic took a shot from the left side, about 10 feet from Kuzon, with 9:45 left. The puck glanced off the goaltenders chest and fell to the ice a foot from the goal line. Seattles Josh Hanson tried to clear the puck, but instead kicked it over the line. It was initially ruled a no-goal, but the call was overturned after review.
Leipsic also netted the puck in the first period which gave Portland a 2-1 lead at the time. He added a pair of assists to go along with his two goals.
A major factor in the Winterhawks run of four unanswered goals to end the game was their emphasis on clean hockey. Portland hurt itself with penalties in the first two periods and allowed three power-play goals in the first 28 minutes of the game. The Winterhawks cut down on penalties after that and shutout the Thunderbirds in the final 32 minutes.
Goaltender Adin Hills play in the net also helped. He came in for the Winterhawks shortly after Seattle scored its third goal and starter Corbin Boes strained his groin. Hill turned away every shot that came his way.
Johnston said after the game that Boes status for Saturdays game against Vancouver had not been determined.
Portland has won 23 of its last 24 games and has 103 points with five games remaining. The Winterhawks trail Kelowna by seven points for the top spot in the Western Hockey League Western Conference.