Thunderbirds lead 5-0 en route to upset win at Rose Garden; Portland hits road for two more weekend games

As the Rose Garden crowd of more than 8,000 fans rose Friday night to welcome home the 2012 Western Hockey League Western Conference champions for a new season, no one could have predicted what would happen next.

A stream of boos, as the rival Seattle Thunderbirds stormed out of their locker room and onto the ice, interrupted the roar.

That was a sign of things to come, as the T-Birds crashed the party, shocking the Hawks 5-2 despite being out-shot 57-27 by Portland.

Even though the Winterhawks were unveiling 11 new players on a roster of 24, Portland appeared to pick up right where it had left off last season, pounding the Seattle net early and often.

A pair of newcomers — Seth Jones and Oliver Bjorkstrand — created most of Portland’s early opportunities.

Jones, who was acquired in a trade over the summer and is projected to be one of the top picks in next spring’s NHL draft, seemed to fit in fine. One minute into the game, Jones became the first to test Seattle’s new goalie, Brandon Glover, with a slap shot from the point — only to be turned away.

Glover, who replaced Calvin Pickard after coming over in a trade from Calgary, ended up doing a lot of turning away.

In the first period, the Hawks out-shot Seattle 30-2, but the score remained 0-0.

Seattle came out very aggressively in the second period and doubled its shot total in two minutes. On the Portland side, the offense went cold.

After newly minted Hawks captain Troy Rutkowski was called for tripping three minutes into the period, Portland did well to kill off the penalty. However, seconds after Rutkowski returned, Tyler Alos of Seattle beat goaltender Brendan Burke on the short side for the first score.

While the goal wasn’t scored with a man advantage, Portland was still seemingly playing a man down, as Rutkowski rushed toward the bench instead of into the action.

After registering more than a shot per minute in the first 20 minutes, Portland failed to record a shot in the first six minutes of the second.

The period ended with the Hawks' third power-play chance, but they again failed to cash in.

Just as the Portland powerplay was coming to an end, Hawks forward Chase De Leo was whistled for goalie interference, giving Seattle its second power play of the night.

With just seconds remaining on the penalty, Portland’s Nicolas Petan was caught carrying the puck behind the net when he dribbled it off the skate of Seth Jones.

With an odd carom, the puck bounced right into the mouth of the goal for Seattle’s Luke Lockhart to knock home and give Seattle a 2-0 lead halfway through the second.

Minutes later, Seattle was back on the power play again. This time, it was Seattle newcomer Riley Sheen with the goal to Burke’s short side, making the score 3-0. Minutes later, Sheen added his second goal on a wrap-around shot that somehow squeezed through Burke’s pads with less than a minute remaining.

“We did a lot of good things for sure, and I was really happy with the first period, but I wasn’t as happy with the second,” Portland coach Mike Johnston said.

Seattle struck for a fifth time 26 seconds into the third frame on a goal by Alexander Dubov.

With all hope lost, Portland was able to add two late goals by Bjorkstrand and Petan.

“We tried to come back, but we just couldn’t today,” Bjorkstrand said. “The first period went pretty good for us, with a lot of shots on goals, but we didn’t play good enough in the second period.”

Jones echoed those sentiments.

“We need to be better than that,” he said. “It’s really early in the season, though, and people are still developing chemistry, so we’re looking to get better throughout the year.”

The Winterhawks return to action Saturday night against the Thunderbirds in Seattle. The Hawks' three-game opening weekend concludes with a game Sunday night at Tri-City.

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