Jaydon Dureau hat trick lifts Portland Winterhawks to win over Seattle
Jaydon Dureau's third hat trick of the season was just enough for the Portland Winterhawks to beat the rival Seattle Thunderbirds 5-4 in an important Western Hockey League contest at Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, April 2.
Dureau's third goal of the game was the winner after Seattle had erased a four-goal Portland lead.
The win moves the Winterhawks five points up on the Thunderbirds in the battle for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. Both teams have four games left in the regular season, which means Portland needs four more points to clinch the No. 3 seed. Third-place in the conference is significant because that team will face the No. 6 seed as opposed to a strong Kelowna team in the first playoff round.
Portland improved to 43-16-3-2 for 91 points. Seattle is 40-18-4-2 for 86 points. The Winterhawks won nine of the 13 regular-season games with Seattle, two of them by shootout and another in overtime.
Portland stayed within four points of first-place Everett in the U.S. Division, but the runway to catch the Silvertips, who have six games remaining, is getting short.
The game-winner on Saturday came with Portland on the power play. Cross Hanas slid a pass to Dureau for a one-timer from the slot that beat Seattle goalie Thomas Milic. It came with 7:09 remaining.
Portland withstood Seattle's push from there, including two clutch saves from goalie Taylor Gauthier in the final 30 seconds, with the Thunderbirds skating with a six-on-four advantage with Milic pulled and the Winterhawks shorthanded.
The Winterhawks were 1 for 4 on the power play, the Thunderbirds 2 of 7 with Dureau's short-handed goal for Portland.
The Hawks had a 35-33 edge in shots on goal, including 16-10 in the third period.
Gauthier stopped 29 of 35 shots to improve to 21-4 in goal since joining the Winterhawks in December.
After the final horn, the Hawks' goalie was assessed two minor penalties, one for leaving his crease and one for roughing when he tangled with Seattle's Kevin Kochinski. Gauthier then urged the crowd of 5,814 to raise the volume of its celebration.
Dureau, who is up to 21 goals, has two hat tricks in Portland's last three games against Seattle over a two-week stretch.
Portland led 4-0 early in the second after Josh Mori's second goal of the season on a deflection. But, Seattle fought back in a hurry. Goals 45 seconds apart from Connor Roulette and Sam Popowich, the first of them on the power play, shifted momentum. When Samuel Knazko snuck in a wrap-around attempt, the margin was down to one goal with 8:20 left in the second period.
Henrik Rybinski's power-play goal with 8:28 left in the third period completed Seattle's four-goal rally. But Dureau had one more goal left in his stick, and that proved to be the difference in an important game.
Dureau opened the scoring with a short-handed tally 6:53 into the game and Gabe Klassen made it 2-0 Portland with his 32nd goal of the season 8:57 into the first. Dureau's second of the night 21 seconds into the second period.
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