The Portland Winterhawks, with the best record in the Western Hockey League's Western Conference, took advantage of seven power-play chances Friday night to score three times and blank the Spokane Chiefs 3-0 at the Arena. Spokane, after defeating Portland on Monday and Wednesday, came up empty despite seven power-play opportunities, one breakaway and a penalty shot. Read story
Rattie said he heard from people who wondered what was wrong with Portland after it dropped four consecutive games. The Winterhawks lost just once during November and once during December.
"It happens to every team in every season, there are little struggles," he said. "Teams were just outworking us. We knew Spokane was a very hard-working team, one of the hardest-working teams in the league, so we were happy with our game tonight."
The rough play, which resulted in 15 penalties, didn't surprise Rattie.
"You play a team three times in a row, something's gonna give in the third game," he said. "We were expecting it. They're a tough team and we like the toughness of our team, too."
Nachbaur said he's still looking for some of his better players to shake their doldrums.
"Unless our best players ARE the best players for us, we have no chance," he said. "Our best players have to skate and compete, and some of them just stood around and they were a problem tonight."
Portland's Troy Rutkowski set a franchise record with his 327th career game, including 216 consecutively.
The next Spokane-Portland game is Feb. 2 at Portland.