Monday, February 6, 2017

Winterhawks edge Thunderbirds in seven-round shootout 4-3

It was a battle of mascots and a battle of win streaks on Saturday night at the Moda Center in Portland. Seattle came into Portland carrying a seven-game win streak while Portland's was at six. Both teams played late into the night Friday night with Portland's 6-5 win in Everett delayed due to traffic and Seattle playing a nine-game shootout in Kent. Both teams apparently enjoyed playing hockey so much that they wanted to keep it going as long as possible. Portland twice came back from a one-goal deficit and got a shootout goal from Alex Overhardt to seal their seventh straight win 4-3. Overhardt was the only one to score of the 14 total shooters given the opportunity. Joachim Blichfeld and Overahrdt both had a goal and an assist to lead the way for Portland while Nolan Volcan led Seattle with two assists.

Portland once again scored a goal early on in a period with a marker 1:53 into the game. Alex Overhardt protected the puck with his frame and fired a shot from the blue line towards the net. Joachim Blichfeld expertly got his stick on the shot and tipped it past Seattle goalie Rylan Toth. Seatle tied things up a few minutes later on a rebound. Donovan Neuls's shot on the rush created trouble for a scrambling Cole Kehler. The Portland goalie let the rebound drift in behind him and Sami Moilanen was first on it. He poked the puck in for his 16th goal of the year. With just 16 seconds left in the first, Seattle d-man Austin Strand gave Seattle their first lead. Just five seconds after a power play ended, Strand sneaked down low and got hit with an alert back door pass by Nolan Volcan.

Portland tied the game up again with Colton Veloso's 15th of the year. The gritty forward, who seems to love going into the tough areas on the ice yet is somehow sixth on the team in goals. Veloso has seized the opportunity to play on the team's top power play while Keegan Iverson has been out with an injury. Veloso scored this time though on a two-on-one break created by speedy left wing Brad Ginnell. The rookie chipped the puck around Seattle d-man Aaron Hyman at his own blue line and broke out on the odd man break. Ginnell was able to get the puck over to Veloso, who put it in. Seattle took the lead back though with 11:09 left in the period. Keoni Texeira, while right in front of his own bench tried to pass over to his partner Caleb Jones while Ryan Gropp was fore-checking. Texeira's pass went right to Gropp's stick. The N.Y. Rangers' prospect walked in on Kehler and beat the surprised goalie easily.

Portland tied up the game yet again in the third period just over three minutes into the final frame. Ryan Hughes sent a nice pass to Blichfeld so that he could enter the Seattle zone in stride and the Danish forward fired a cross-ice pass over to Alex Overhardt. The 19-year-old center wired it past Toth for the game-tying goal. Both teams had chances to score in the final 10 minutes of the third and the five-minute OT but could not beat the veteran goalies. Chief among these chances was a Cody Glass chance off a turnover that went through Toth's legs but banked off his inner pad and went just wide.

Each side threw seven shooters in the circus but only Alex Overhardt was successful. Portland was able to escape with a 4-3 win and extend their win streak out to seven games.

Cole Kehler was solid for the Hawks with 51 saves on 54 shots. That is a career high in saves for Kehler. His previous high was 48 a few weeks back vs. Prince George. Rylan Toth turned away 36 of 39 at the other end.

Portland and Seattle both went 0/4 on the power play.

Game Notes:
-Apparently just two minutes into over time local TV coverage (CW in Portland) cut away to air regularly scheduled programming.
-I guess they did not really have you covered. The game suffered a series of delays starting with a glass issue and continuing on with an extended intermission for the mascot game. What unique and world-changing event did they cut away to air? The 10pm news.
-Portland next takes on Spokane for two straight Wednesday and Friday night. The home-and-home series looked to be deciding whom would be holding the eighth seed. Now it looks like it will determine whether Portland will have any where from a seven to a 15 point lead. Suddenly the Hawks are within striking range of Tri-City for the three seed in the U.S. They have two games in hand and are just four points back of the Americans.
-Portland now leads the season series with Seattle 5-1-1 with five games left. One of the games went to overtime and two of the games went to the shootout. All but one of the games were decided by one goal.

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