Winterhawks win at Brandon
A shorthanded goal in the third period was the difference on Tuesday as the Portland Winterhawks won their fifth Western Hockey League game in a row.
Joachim Blichfeld's shorthanded tally with 9:57 left proved to be the difference as Portland beat the Brandon Wheat Kings 4-3 at Westoba Place in Brandon, Manitoba.
Portland improved to 24-11-3-2 (53 points) and remained a solid second in the U.S. Division. Brandon is 16-16-3-3 (38), fourth in the East Division.
Jaydon Dureau had a goal and assist for Portland, and Michal Kvasnica and Seth Jarvis also netted Winterhawks goals.
Blichfeld's league-leading 37th goal of the season came on a fluky play midway through the third period and gave the Hawks a two-goal lead.
With Brandon on a power play, Blichfeld poked the puck into the Wheat Kings' zone. Brandon goalie Jiri Patera left his goal to beat Blichfeld to the puck, but Portland's Jake Gricius intercepted Patera's clearing attempt and fed Blichfeld behind the goalie for an easy goal.
It was the fourth goal in a row for Portland, which rallied from an early 2-0 deficit. And it turned out to be big when the Wheat Kings scored with 5:07 remaining to pull back within one — a Braden Schneider point shot finding the goal through traffic after a clean faceoff win by Caiden Daley.
Brandon pushed hard for the tying goal and nearly got it moments after Schneider's goal, when Lynden McCallum hit the post.
The Wheat Kings played the final two minutes with their net empty and an extra attacker and controlled the puck for most of that time but could not tie the score.
Patera, a Vegas Golden Knights draft pick from the Czech Republic, played a strong game in net with 47 saves for Brandon as the Winterhawks finished with a 51-35 advantage in shots on goal.
Dureau put Portland ahead with the only goal of the second period.
After Dureau skated into the zone, his centering attempt was blocked, but Gricius collected the loose puck and shuffled it back to Dureau, who had an open net for his ninth goal of the season.
Ben McCartney scored twice in the first 3:45 as Brandon jumped ahead on its first two shots. McCartney's opener came on a breakaway, and the second was on a cross-crease pass from Connor Gutenberg.
A spinning shot from Kvasnica got the Winterhawks on the board at 5:37 of the first period; it was his seventh goal of the season.
Jarvis tied it 10 minutes later by tapping in a pass from Dureau for his 10th goal of the season, with Reece Newkirk also providing traffic in the crease.
Portland goalie Shane Farkas finished with 32 saves.
Both teams were 0 for 3 on the power play.
Cody Glass returned to the Hawks lineup after missing nine games while representing Canada at the World Juniors Championship.
Portland defenseman Matthew Quigley served the last of a four-game suspension and will be eligible to return to the lineup on Wednesday, when the Winterhawks visit Regina (5 p.m. PT).
On Friday, Portland visits league-leading Prince Albert. The Hawks wrap up their trip through the East Division on Saturday at Saskatoon.