Seattle T-Birds win 2-1, force Portland Winterhawks to Game 7
Opportunities were again tough to come by on Monday, May 16, for the Portland Winterhawks.
Now they have one more chance — their third after leading the best-of-7 series 3-1 — to try to advance to the Western Hockey League's Western Conference finals. That chance comes Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
It will be the fourth game in five days in the tight series between the U.S. Division rivals.
Seattle limited Portland to one goal for a second consecutive game in a 2-1 Monday win in Kent, Washington, that extends the series to a decisive Game 7. All the scoring Monday happened in the first period, when some strong play by Portland goalie Taylor Gauthier kept it a one-goal contest.
After a good first few minutes from Portland in the attacking zone, the Winterhawks played from behind because the Thunderbirds' forecheck created two first-period goals.
Henrik Rybinski knocked Portland's Clay Hanus off the puck behind the Portland goal and sent a centering pass through the slot. Lukas Svejkovsky touched a pass for a wide-open Reid Schaefer, who beat Gauthier from close range 3:12 into the game.
Cross Hanas tied it for Portland five minutes later by deflecting a Hanus shot past Thomas Milic with the Winterhawks on a five-on-three power play.
Seattle, which established some strong zone time throughout the first period, took the 2-1 lead on a power play 12:51 into the first period, with Jordan Gustafson firing a shot past Gauthier with Matthew Rempe providing a screen. Some extended zone time led to that Portland penalty, and Seattle won possession down low to set up Gustafson's good look.
Portland's best chances to tie it came late in the second period. Milic denied Marcus Nguyen on a rare Portland two-on-one chance. Moments later, the Seattle goalie somehow made a sprawling stop when Hanas skated across the crease and appeared to have an open net. That play went to video review but there was no evidence the puck completely entered the goal.
The best third-period chances for Portland were a couple of scrambles in the closing minute with Gauthier pulled for a sixth skater.
The Thunderbirds have done an excellent job the last two games of forcing the Winterhawks to play on the perimeter when at even strength. On Monday, the last penalty called on either team came late in the first period.
Gauthier finished with 34 saves, 15 of them in the first period. Milic, who saw most of the pucks coming his way, made 29 saves.
Portland was 1 for 3 on the power play, Seattle 1 for 2.
After Seattle outshot Portland 17-12 in the first period, both teams were much better in their own zone the rest of the night.
The winner on Tuesday advances to face Kamloops in the conference finals, starting in Kamloops, likely Friday or Saturday.
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