Winterhawks power past Thunderbirds on Friday for 3-1 series lead
Cross Hanas got things started with an early goal and finished it with an empty-netter on Friday, May 13, as the Portland Winterhawks beat the Seattle Thunderbirds 5-1 in Kent, Washington, to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series between the Western Hockey League rivals.
Portland has a chance to close out the series at home on Saturday. Game 5 is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Hanas had a hat trick and one assist, Kyle Chyzowski had three assists and goalie Taylor Gauthier made 31 saves to help Portland move within one win of advancing to the Western Conference finals.
The Winterhawks' power play, which had struggled to convert in the first three games of this series, was the difference on Friday. Portland was 3 for 4 with a man advantage, gaining control of the game with two power-play goals in the second period that gave the Hawks a three-goal lead.
Portland's forecheck created a couple of those power plays.
As Seattle did on Wednesday in Portland, the Winterhawks played a smart third period, keeping the Thunderbirds out of dangerous areas and making the T-Birds work to establish things in the attacking zone.
Hanas, who had only one playoff goal through seven games, potted three on Friday.
He gave the Winterhawks their first 1-0 lead of the series when he scored from the slot 7:09 into the game. With Portland on the forecheck, Tyson Kozak disrupted a breakout pass and Hanas pounced on the loose puck, ripping a quick shot past Seattle goalie Thomas Milic.
The next four goals came from power plays, three of them for Portland.
Kozak made it 2-0 14:35 into the first period, finding space on the power play in the slot and converting a feed from Clay Hanus.
Lukas Svejkovsky got one back on a Seattle power play 4:56 into the second period, putting home a rebound after two Portland players collided in the slot.
Hanas made it 3-1 at 11:42 of period two. Skating right to left through the slot, Hanas faked a shot to fool Seattle defender Tyrel Bauer and getting Milic to commit before converting into an empty net for the second of Portland's power-play conversions.
Then came the game's pivotal moment. Bauer was assessed a double minor penalty for high sticking and Jack O'Brien took a short pass from Chyzowski to make it 4-1 late in the second period.
Gauthier was sharp, stopping 31 of 32 shots including an early chance after a strange bounce off the end boards created an open net for Seattle's Nico Myatovic on a chance that was disrupted a bit by Ryder Thompson's back check. Among Gauthier's big moments was stopping a penalty shot opportunity for Reid Schaeffer late in the second period. There was also a stop that robbed Seattle's Conner Roulette.
Also on Friday, the Vancouver Giants avoided elimination with a 5-2 win at. Kamloops. The Blazers lead that Western Conference semifinal 3-2 heading into Game 6 on Sunday at Vancouver.
The Eastern Conference final series is set, with Winnipeg facing Edmonton after the Ice closed out Moose Jaw on Friday.
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