It couldn’t have played out any other way.
With Portland and Spokane both having reached Game 7 of their Western Hockey League playoff series with 19 goals apiece, it’s not surprising overtime was needed.
If there was one advantage it belonged to Portland because the visiting team had won every game up to this point.
And they did it again.
Defenseman Taylor Aronson made a strong rush into the Chiefs in and put the puck on the stick of unmarked rookie Ty Rattie, who got his first playoff goal 17:29 into overtime to give the Winterhawks a 5-4 win.
“I don’t know,” Chiefs coach Hardy Sauter said about the inability to win at home. “I think a combination of some bad bounces, some bad breaks. Tonight I thought they scored a couple of not great goals. If you give up a bad goal in a close series like this, it’s usually going to bite you.
“It’s just too bad. As a group I thought we played well enough to win tonight and didn’t get the result we wanted.”
More maddening – the Chiefs had a 3-0 lead in the opening minutes of the second period and a 4-2 lead with just more than 10 minutes to play in regulation.
By winning the series 4-3, Portland goes home to start the second round against Vancouver.
The Chiefs got out to a quick lead, something they failed to do in previous home games, by catching a break, another elusive element in this building in this series.
The puck was behind the Portland net with goalie Mac Carruth and a defenseman assuming the other would play it. Instead, Brady Brassart sent it out front to Tyler Johnson, who buried it for his third playoff goal, just 3:36 into the game.
The Winterhawks kept pressure on, but Spokane scored next. Mitch Wahl went around defenseman Taylor Aronson for a short breakaway. Without much room to maneuver, Wahl shot the puck and it dribbled off Carruth into the next at 11:03 to make it 2-0.
They needed that and more – Wahl scored on an innocent looking wrist shot from the left circle just 3:31 into the second period – because the Winterhawks weren’t about to give up.
Portland got on the board at 7:03 of the second period when Nino Niederreiter sent a high wrist shot from the left circle to the far corner after a nifty drop pass by Brad Ross. Then a failure to win a faceoff and clear the puck led to a scrambling goal, credited to Ryan Johansen at 17:07. A shot off Reid dribbled to the goal line and as he and defenseman Stefan Ulmer went to clear it out the Winterhawks seemed to push both players and the puck into the net to make it 3-2.
A goal by Kyle Beach, on a feed from Wahl, who was behind the net, restored the two-goal lead at 6:50 of the third period. However, Riley Boychuk at 9:45 and Luke Walker at 13:24 – both times when the puck was left on the Chiefs doorstep by Reid and his defensemen – forced the overtime.
“I think we were trying to rely too much on our defense,” Johnson said. “We weren’t really pushing the play like we usually do. I think that cost us. When you’re sitting back on your heels, that’s when they can attack you and they did. They played well.”