Winterhawks blank Silvertips
Cole Kehler made 28 saves for his fourth shutout of the season and the Portland Winterhawks kept alive their hopes of winning the U.S. Division on Sunday with a 2-0 win over the Everett Silvertips in front of 8,263 fans at Moda Center.
Defensemen Brendan De Jong in the first period and Henri Jokiharju in the third scored the goals, both on shots that deflected off an Everett player and past Silvertips goalie Carter Hart.
Portland (42-21-1-4, 91 points) trails first-place Everett (45-19-2-3) by four points with three regular-season games remaining for both teams. The Winterhawks are seven points ahead of third-place Spokane, which has four games remaining.
De Jong's fifth goal of the season made it 1-0 10:06 into the game.
Jokiharju's 10th goal of the season came on a power play and gave the Winterhawks some breathing room with 6:06 remaining in the game.
Kehler made 12 saves in the second period and eight in the third and helped Portland kill five Everett power plays on a night when Alex Overhardt, a key defensive forward, was out sick.
Kehler said the most difficult stop was a third period chance on the rush for Everett's Patrick Bajkov.
"He got a shot off in tight and I got a piece of it with my glove. Any time you've got a guy whose got more than 90 points coming down on you it's never an easy save. That one felt pretty good."
Kehler (29-15 on the season) has won his last three decisions after sitting for a run of games during a hot streak for teammate Shane Farkas.
"The guys played great in front of me," Kehler said. "It was a fun night and it's good for us to beat Everett. They're in first place and that's a good confidence booster for us."
Lukus MacKenzie suffered an upper-body injury in the first period and did not return.
The Winterhawks close the regular season next weekend, playing host to Seattle on Friday, visiting Seattle in Kent, Washington on Saturday and playing host to Spokane on March 18.
The playoffs will open the weekend of March 23-25.