Chiefs down Winterhawks in OT
Thirty seconds from finishing off the Spokane Chiefs, the Portland Winterhawks have more work to do to advance in the Western Hockey League playoffs.
Kailer Yamamoto scored 9:19 into overtime on Saturday to lift his Chiefs to a 5-4 win in front of 6,033 fans at Memorial Coliseum, a result that sends this best-of-seven series back to Spokane for Game 6 at 7 p.m. Monday.
Portland leads the series 3-2 but needs to shake off a tough loss in a series where four of five games have been decided by one goal.
If the Chiefs win Game 6, the seventh game would take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Memorial Coliseum.
The Winterhawks were less than a minute from another one-goal win, one that would have ended the series.
But with the Chiefs skating with an extra attacker and desperately throwing pucks and people at the Portland net, a shot by defenseman Nolan Reid deflected off the body of Portland's Alex Overhardt, who was trying to block the shot. The puck changed directions and beat goalie Cole Kehler with 30.7 seconds remaining.
Their season extended, the Chiefs had the Hawks under pressure for much of the overtime, and when the puck landed on Yamamoto's stick, he ripped a slap shot through traffic into the goal.
It was the first goal and only the third point of the series for Yamamoto, the Edmonton Oilers prospect who put up 64 points (21 goals, 43 assists) in 40 regular-season WHL games this year.
Yamamoto got control of the puck along the right-wing and carried it into the zone. After passing to Reid, who shuffled the puck to Jared Anderson-Dolan, Yamamoto then circled back and drifted into open space as he re-entered the zone.
"I had good patience and swirled back around," Yamamoto said. "(Anderson-Dolan) put it right in my sweet spot, and I took a one-timer. Thankfully it went in. I saw traffic and just put my head down and tried to shoot it."
It was one of the few times in the series that Yamamoto has been able to step into a shot.
"He came across the line delayed, and we gave him a little bit too much time. You can't give him that much time and space," Winterhawks coach/GM/VP Mike Johnston said.
Yamamoto knew he was overdue to come through for his team.
"It's frustrating not getting on the board," he said. "But I've got a lot of teammates behind me who support me in every way. It's hard to get frustrated on this team when you have a team like this behind you."
He gave Kehler and the Winterhawks credit for his quiet series, so far.
"They're just playing good defensively. They're blocking a lot of shots and getting in the (shooting) lanes," Yamamoto said. "I think I've been getting better every game."
Johnston said his team wasn't good enough at denying shots from the blueline points and took too many penalties on Saturday. Spokane was 1 for 6 on the power play, but also scored only seconds after one of those expired. All six Chiefs' power plays came in the first two periods.
"We can't give them six power plays in a game. I thought our power play was really good as well, but we just didn't have enough (0 for 2) and we gave them too many," Johnston said. "We can't get caught with stick penalties, that's the key thing. We just can't get caught reaching from behind, hooking, tripping, those types of penalties. You've got to skate guys down and get in better position."
The Hawks were in position to end the series after defenseman Dennis Cholowski's fourth goal of the series put Portland up for the fourth time in the game, this time 4-3 with 6:27 left.
His rebound goal came seconds after Spokane goalie Dawson Weatherill made two good saves to deny Skyler McKenzie.
Before the Reid tying goal, both teams had glorious chances during a fast-paced third period. Portland's included a Cody Glass breakaway with 1:52 remaining.
"It became a game where both teams were pressing for the win," Johnston said of an end-to-end third period. "We got our goal with six minutes left. We had two great chances to get another one after we scored. We just couldn't get it."
Yamamoto called the third period "one of the craziest periods I've been a part of in my WHL career."
From the time Mason Mannek scored the opening goal 9:20 into the first period, the Chiefs spent the night answering Portland goals but never gaining a lead.
Portland led 2-1 after one period on a goal from Mannek off a Conor MacEachern feed and a Glass goal from McKenzie. Those goals sandwiched a Riley Woods goal for Spokane midway through the first period.
Hudson Elynuik tied it for Spokane just after the Chiefs' fifth power play expired. Then, 19 seconds later, Ryan Hughes restored the Hawks' lead when his shot-pass slipped through Weatherill with Joachim Blichfeld driving to the net.
Spokane tied it at 3-3 5:05 into the third period. Jake McGrew was able to chip a puck past Kehler on a scramble in front, setting the stage for an intense finish.
The Chiefs finished with a 54-44 shots advantage thanks to their desperation play late in the third and their ability to create pressure inn overtime.
Over the last 13 minutes of the game. Spokane out-shot Portland 14-4, including a 9-3 advantage in overtime.
"Getting that (late tying) goal gave us a little energy and momentum going into overtime," Yamamoto said.
In this series, momentum has been hard for either team to hold. Spokane's two wins came in overtime at the coliseum. Portland won both games at Spokane Arena.
"In playoff hockey, when the game ends, the game ends. It's not like the regular season when you can dwell on it for a long time," Johnston said. "We've got to get our energy back, our food, nutrition, sleep, rest and then get back at it again. We're still in control of the series. We worked hard to get control of the series, and we feel good on the road."