Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Portland Undone by Calgary Shorthanded Goals in 6-2 Loss

Radel Fazleev had three points in Calgary's win
The Portland Winterhawks were riding high as they entered Calgary, winning five of their last six games and both on their six-game Eastern swing. They were brought back to reality Tuesday night. Their goalie who had been playing out of his mind recently, gave up a couple weak looking goals, their power play gave up two shorthanded goals and the puck would not settle down for them in prime scoring chances. The end result was a 6-2 loss to the Hitmen. Calgary was led by a goal and two assists from Radel Fazleev and two goals from Jakob Stukel in the win.

Calgary opened the scoring, while Portland was on the power play. Jack Dougherty tried to hold the puck in along the right boards and had it bounce right to a pressuring
Taylor Sanheim. The younger of the Sanheim brothers then streaked in on Portland's Adin Hill and beat him on the breakaway for his fifth goal of the year. Dougherty was felled by a combination of indecisiveness and poor luck on the play. The elder Sanheim, defenseman Travis, made a nice play later in the period, controlling the puck in the Winterhawks' zone before making a nice feed over to d-man Jake Bean. The expected 2016 NHL Draft first round pick then fired the puck towards the net and had it deflect off of the body of Jordy Stallard and past Hill. Portland used great outlet passes to spring the speedy Evan Weinger three times in the period, but the California native had the puck roll on him on one chance, was stopped by Calgary goalie Nik Amundrud on another and was stopped by the right post on the third.

Calgary got their second shorthanded goal of the night in the second, to spring to a 3-0 lead. On the play, Caleb Jones ended up in the far right corner and attempted a dangerous drop-pass to Dougherty at the point. The pass went right into the body of Calgary's Fazleev and the Russian import and teammate Carson Twarynski skated in on a two-on-one against Dougherty. Fazleev used the threat of the pass to get Dougherty away form the net and smartly walked in on Hill, roofing a backhand shot. Hill, who usually employs a solid poke-check, decided to stay at home, allowing the Russian an easy path to the net. Fazleev gave Calgary a four-goal lead with a great pass from behind the net to a waiting Stukel, who buried it. Portland center-man Cody Glass was mesmerized by Fazleev on the play, allowing himself to get suckered out of position, pursuing the Russian behind the net and allowing Stukel plenty of room to get a shot off.

For the first time in 26 games, Portland had a goalie not named Adin Hill in net to start the third period, as Michael Bullion came on in relief of Hill. Portland finally got on board as the third got under way, while on a five-on-three power play. After Amundrud made one great save on a Dougherty one-timer the previous time down the ice, Jones used the threat of a shot by him to open up Dougherty for another one-timer. This time he buried it for his 10th goal of the year. Any chance of Portland making a crazy comeback, though was undone by a goal off the rush by  Pavel Karnaukhov. He used the threat of a pass to an onrushing Hitmen forward to force Blake Heinrich to give him room. He then beat Bullion on the glove-side as the backup goalie got too aggressive. Things got worse for Portland as a beautiful tic-tac-toe goal from Stukel made the score 6-1. Crisp passing along the point by Bean and Travis Sanheim helped set up the power play goal for Calgary. The Winterhawks would cut into the five-goal lead with under a minute to go in the game as a blocked Carter Czaikowski shot on the power play came right to Caleb Jones and the Oilers' prospect beat Amundrud for his 10th goal of the year. That would be all she wrote for Portland though, as they fall to 2-1 on their Central Division road trip. They have a quick turn around now as they head to Edmonton to take on the Oil Kings Wednesday night.

Calgary native Adin Hill may've been a little too tight playing in his hometown as his performance fell off noticeably from his previous five or six games. Another Calgary native had a little something to celebrate as Carter Czaikowski assisted on Jones' late goal. Calgary got a great performance from Amundrud as he stopped 33 of the 35 shots he faced. For Portland; Bullion stopped six of eight, while Hill was good on 21 of 25.

Calgary was 1/4 on the power play, while Portland was 1/7 with two shorthanded goals against. The Winterhawks had only given up five SH goals against all year prior to the two they gave up Tuesday night.
Game Stats:

F/O %
McKenzie 0 0 0 1 1/2 50% 6 0 0
Glass 0 0 0 1 12/24 50% 1 0 0
Schoenborn 0 0 0 3 - - 6 0 2
Veloso0000 --300
De Jong0001  --110

Game Notes:
-Portland's crisp passing that was on display in their lopsided win over Medicine Hat on Saturday, showed glimpses of being there, but more often than not, the puck bounced off their sticks, eliminating a rush into Calgary's zone. Weinger's breakaways were early examples of Portland catching Calgary flat-footed. The Hitmen then played a much tighter defensive game in the second period, eliminating these long passes.
-Rihards Bukarts had a prime chance, just prior to Calgary's third goal that he failed to score on. Off the rebound of an Alex Schoenborn shot, he had a wide open net to shoot at, but had the puck roll on edge, just as he was about to shoot. Bukarts really seemed to shoot at will as he tried to shake himself free of his recent scoring slump. He hasn't scored in five straight games now and only has two goals in his last 17 games. It appears that he is holding his stick a little too tight on great scoring hances now and needs a goal or two to get the monkey off of his back and get himself back into the free-flowing style we are used to seeing him play with.
-Blake Heinrich has struggled at times with his spacing on the rush. He gave Karnakhov way too much room on his goal and on another occasion let Carson Twarynski walk in on his goalie too easily. He has the ability to use his size to punish those that try to charge the net with the puck, but that was not on display enough this night.
-Colton Veloso made another poor backhand clearance pass at his own blue line. This is something that keeps jumping out to me and likely to the Winterhawks' coaching staff as well. He needs to switch things up and use the boards more in this spot as he is getting too predictable.
-Seattle beat Vancouver at home 5-3 and Tri-City beat Prince George 4-1 in Kennewick. This means that the T-birds' lead over Portland for second in the division is at four points now and the Americans are only two points behind Kamloops for the West's final playoff spot.

Winterhawks in the NHL:
-Brendan Leipsic had 17:39 of total ice time and 4:00 of power play ice time in his return to the Maple Leafs. The Leads fell to Nashville 3-2 in the game Tuesday night.
-Brandon Dubinsky had an assist for Columbus, as they fell to Detroit 2-1 in the shoot out.
-Colton Sceviour scored his sixth goal of the year for Dallas in a crazy 5-3 victory over Winnipeg.

Winterhawks in the AHL:
-Rob Klinkhammer had an assist for Bakersfield in their 3-2 victory over San Antonio.

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