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TUESDAY WHL RECAP/The 4-1 home victory extends Portland's lead to five points on Spokane

The Portland Winterhawks picked up a key victory Tuesday night to open the final week of the Western Hockey League regular season.

Portland beat the Everett Silvertips 4-1 before 5,065 fans at Memorial Coliseum.

Portland improved to 40-20-3-3 (86 points), and reached the 40-win mark for the third year in a row.

Joel Hofer made 36 saves for the Hawks.

Spokane, meanwhile, had its four-game road win streak end with a 5-1 loss at Kamloops.

The combination gave the Hawks a five-point lead on Spokane (37-21-2-5, 81) in their battle for second place in the U.S. Division and for home ice advantage in their upcoming first-round playoff series.

Portland has two games remaining (Saturday at Seattle, Sunday at the coliseum against the Thunderbirds), while the Chiefs have three (at home against Kelowna and Tri-City, then at Tri-City).

Everett's loss dropped the Silvertips (46-16-2-2, 96 points) from the top spot in the Western Conference, as they are now two points behind the Vancouver Giants, who beat Seattle 5-1 to get to 98 points.

Reece Newkirk's goal 4:50 into the second period opened the scoring, and Portland increased its lead to 2-0 on Jake Gricius' one-timer goal off a face-off at 18:20 of the third period.

Everett's Bryce Kindopp scored at 17:30 of the final frame.

But Jared Freadrich and Lane Gillis tallied empty-net goals for the final margin.

Joachim Blichfeld had two assists for Portland. Gricius also had an assist.

Portland was 0 for 2 on the power play, while Everett was 0 fof 3.

Dustin Wolf stopped 28 saves for the Silvertips.

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