Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Portland's Comeback Falls Short in Everett 3-2

Carter Hart stopped 30 shots and Carson Stadnyk had the game-winner Tuesday night
The Portland Winterhawks went into Everett Tuesday night, hoping that a win over the Silvertips and a Tri-City Americans loss in Kennewick to Kamloops, would both happen and they would all but sew up their playoff birth. Unfortunately, they let the 'Tips roll out to a 3-0 third period, lead, before sustaining pressure and putting them on their heels in a comeback effort that fell short; 3-2. They did get a Kamloops 6-2 win over Tri-City, meaning their magic point number to clinch is down to five. That is five combined points, lost by Tri-City or gained by Portland.

The Winterhawks were undone by two long shots and a great set up by Everett's best d-man.

Everett scored twice in the first period and both goals came on shots that we are used to seeing Adin Hill stop. First, just 2:20 into the game, Yan Khomenko drove into the Portland zone and just after crossing the blue line, shot the puck towards Adin Hill's glove. The shot did not appear to be screened, nor did it seem particularly hard and yet Hill's glove came up with nothing but air. Then, later in the period, Everett scored a very controversial goal. Controversial in the sense that there is no way that it should have counted. Everett's Connor Dewar attempted to get into the Portland zone and was met by Portland power forward Keegan Iverson, who checked him to the ice. Silvertips' captain Dawson Leedahl, then retaliated with a check that sent an unprepared Iverson to the ice himself. This freed up Patrick Bajkov to skate into the zone and he put a shot over Hill's glove. This was once again a shot that Hill will want back.

Everett added to their lead in the second period as first round Montreal draft pick Noah Juulsen drove past Nashville second round pick Jack Dougherty and threw a nice back door pass to a waiting Carson Stadnyk. The winger potted a goal past a down and out Hill. Adin kept Portland in the game late in the period as he made three crazy saves right in a row, while scrambling against Stadnyk and Remi Laurencelle. Perhaps the most impressive of the three was one where Stadnyk dug the puck out, walked around to Hill's right and appeared to have the whole top of the net to shoot at. Hill. threw his glove and blocker out in front of him as he was in a seated position and deflected the shot over the net.

Portland finally found their legs in the third period, where they dominated possession and converted on both of their power play chances, creating a tight game, in which they just simply ran out of time. Portland got their first goal from Everett killer Rihards Bukarts, who took advantage of two great plays in succession by rookie center Ryan Hughes. He first picked off a dump in at center ice and then got Everett d-man Kevin Davis to stab at the puck, before finding Bukarts in alone on Carter Hart. In a goal that was very similar to the one he scored in Portland's last game, he waited out Hart and tucked the puck in on the right side of Hart. The goal gave Portland even more life and they kept the pressure going. After earning another power play, they got to within one goal, when a Caleb Jones centering pass, kicked off a skate right to Alex Scboenborn, who potted his 27th of the season. The Hawks had several good looks in the last five minutes of the game, including a point blank look from an open Dominic Turgeon, below the right face off dot, but Carter Hart stood tall, earning Everett a big win. The Silvertips close to within two points of the first place Seattle Thunderbirds.

Hart faced 32 shots, by my count and stopped 30. Hill meanwhile, faced 25 and was good for 22 saves. Hill was not good on Everett's first two goals, but did stand tall under fantastic pressure in the game's middle frame.

Portland went 2/4 on the power play and held Everett to 0/3 on their three chances.
Game Stats:

F/O %
Veloso0002 --10
De Jong0002--10
MacEachern0000  --00
Game Notes:
-Jack Dougherty allowed Noah Juulsen to make a power move and get right around him, in the set up to the eventual game-winner by Stadnyk. He simply had to position himself better on that play. He has to realize, that his help in that spot is towards the center of the ice, so needed to force the d-man in that direction. Also, Juulsen does not have the quickness that a lot of the Everett's forwards have, so he need not worry about him bursting past him to the net up the middle. Regardless of how you look at it, Dougherty failed to make plays on the last two game-winning-goals in Everett. He lost a corner battle in the third period of Portland's last loss in Everett, allowing Brian King to get a good look and beat Hill to break a tie. Then there is this play. He needs to start reading these situations better, as Portland continues to rely upon him to shut down the other team's top players.
-Where Jack Doguherty's stock this year, has somewhat fallen off, Caleb Jones' has burst through the ceiling. The d-man has thrived in coach Jamie Kompon's system, especially since having Blake Heinrich, moved over to play with him. Jones and Keoni Texeira's styles seemed to clash and Heinrich has been a much smoother fit for him. Heinrich's consistency in his own end, has allowed Jones to get more comfortable rushing the puck and it has paid off for both of them. A lot of times this year, Jones found himself in positions where he was way out of position due to not feeling out the play the right way and turning the puck over, while he was way out in front of the puck. He has gotten more used to his new role now and the style of the play in the league, meaning that he now can calm down and make a creative play in the opponent's zone, rather than rush something that is not there. This was on display during Portland's second goal, as he found a very small window to throw the puck, where Portland had more bodies than Everett. His play in his own zone, has also freed up Heinrich to create offense in his own right.
-The season series is now 5-4 Portland with one game left to play in Portland.
-Portland has to wait and see how Spokane does against Kamloops Wednesday night now and hope that they can hold onto their one-point lead over Spokane for third in the U.S. Division. Home-ice now seems like a fantasy, as Everett has all but sealed up second in the U.S.
-Alex Overhardt was held out of the lineup again, as it appears that he was healthy-scratched for the second time this year. In his absence, the three Portland centers dominated the face off dot. Between Hughes, Cody Glass and Turgeon, they won 36 of 49 face offs for 73.5%. This will be something to take a much closer look at if Portland does end up playing Everett in the playoffs once again.
-Portland now heads to Vancouver, where the Western Conference cellar dwellers are waiting to play spoilers Friday night.
Winterhawks in the NHL:
-Brandon Dubinsky and Seth Jones each had two assists as the Columbus Blue Jackets took down the Detroit Red Wings 5-3.
-Ryan Johansen scored the eventual game-winner as Nashville took down Winnipeg 4-2.
Ryan Johansen with the tally. #Preds lead the #NHLjets 3-1: pic.twitter.com/JGsRPDVFSN
— Mark Harris (@MCHisTweeting) March 9, 2016
Winterhawks in the ECHL: -Brett Ponich scored and added an assist for Kalmazoo as they took out Utah 5-3.
-Gasper Kopitar assisted on two of Manchester's three goals in their 4-3 loss to Adirondack.

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